On 1 October 2021, Natasha's Law will come into effect, changing regulations on allergen labelling for pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) foods. Food firms such as cafes selling PPDS foods ready for consumption, such as sandwiches and wraps, will have to include full ingredients on the product label with allergenic ingredients emphasised within that list.
The changes to the rules come following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from an allergic reaction caused by a packaged baguette which, at the time, did not require allergen labelling.
New labelling guidance
To help support food businesses, the FSA has launched a PPDS Hub featuring useful information. This will include new labelling guidance for PPDS foods and guides that will be helpful to specific sectors including bakery, butchers, fast food and takeaways, mobile sellers, restaurants, cafes and pubs, and schools. The guides each give practical information on PPDS and how these changes could impact a food business.
The FSA will also be hosting a free two-hour webinar for food businesses on 4 August at 2pm. The webinar will feature a range of speakers who can discuss these changes with food firms and answer their questions. It is open to businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Speakers include Claire Florey, regulatory affairs manager at Greggs.
“The FSA’s ambition is that the UK becomes the best place in the world for a food hypersensitive consumer and the upcoming allergen labelling changes are a huge milestone for people with food allergies," said Sushma Acharya, head of policy and strategy for food hypersensitivity at the FSA.
“We recognise the significant impact this will have on many businesses, and with less than three months to go, we want to ensure businesses are supported in making these changes.
To register for the PPDS webinar, readers can visit https://ppdsbusiness.fsaevents.co.uk/home. For those unable to make the webinar, a recording will be made available on the PPDS Hub of the FSA website for you to view afterwards.
Meanwhile, the FSA is assessing the effectiveness of precautionary allergen labelling (PAL) - such as 'may contain ...' on all foods, including processed products. It is also working with Codex Alimentarius, the global food standards body, which is looking at harmonising allergen thresholds to develop international standards for the way PAL is used.
Speaking at an online FSA symposium in March, Apetito's group technical manager Iain Mortimer said regulation of PAL was 'desperately needed', because it was inconsistently used and could sometimes be counterproductive.