As we highlighted earlier in the year, a new law comes into force from 1st October 2021 which formalises the requirement for the labelling of ingredients on pre-packed foods, with particular emphasis on allergens.
Around 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children in the UK have a food allergy (not including intolerances). With some allergic reactions being potentially fatal, the Government and Food Standards Agency have been working on this new law for some time. It is known as Natasha’s Law after a young woman who died having eaten an inadequately labelled baguette.
Natasha’s Law relates specifically to PPDS foods (PrePacked for Direct Sale). Typically, this would include items like premade sandwiches or pizza a customer can choose from the chiller cabinet, or food that has been made and packed by one company and bought by another to sell. It will not be a legal requirement to label items that are packed to order (like a deli-sandwich made up as the customer selects the ingredients) but allergen information must still be supplied, either verbally or in writing.
What needs to be listed on the label?
Food labels must show the name of the food and all the ingredients in it, with any of the fourteen potential allergens highlighted (for example, listed in bold type to help them stand out).
What are the 14 allergens?
Although some people are allergic to or intolerant of other ingredients, these fourteen are required by law to be marked as allergens. They are:
How do you check if you meet the requirements?
Firstly, check that you do sell PPDS foods. It might sound obvious, but The Food Standards Agency have a handy checker tool that can help you be sure; find it here https://www.food.gov.uk/allergen-ingredients-food-labelling-decision-tool
Then you can check what to list: the name of the foodstuff and all its ingredients. Again the FSA have a useful guide to explain clear food labelling here https://www.food.gov.uk/business-guidance/labelling-guidance-for-prepacked-for-direct-sale-ppds-food-products Their example using a ‘simple’ Cheese and Pickle Sandwich really brings it home.
Finally, it is vital that your staff are trained to understand the requirements of the new law and – perhaps more importantly – what the fourteen allergens are. If your staff understand where they occur and know the implications of an allergic reaction, they will be in a stronger position to keep your customers safe.
Further advice and information is also available here:
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Rod Carver - Level 3 Food Safety Attendee
Academy Training Manager