The Food Standards Agency has published a Technical Guidance to help food businesses to comply with new allergen labelling requirements due to come into force in October 2021 (Natasha’s Law). The guidance, which was expected last October, provides more information on the new legal requirements for all businesses and organisations affected, which includes hospital caterers.
Natasha’s Law aims to provide more protection for millions of allergy sufferers by strengthening current regulations around allergen labelling. Its introduction follows the tragic death of teenager, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to a baguette from Pret a Manger.
Currently there are no requirements for foods that are prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) on the premises from which they will be sold to display allergen information on the label. Such foods include sandwiches, baguettes, rolls, wraps, salads and other items that are prepared and packaged before placing in a retail unit chiller cabinet for sale to the consumer.
From October 2021, all PPDS food must contain, on the packaging or a label attached to the packaging, both the name of the food and an ingredients list, including allergenic ingredients. These must be emphasised every time they appear in the ingredients list, for instance, by using bold or different coloured type, underlining or capital letters.
These new regulations do not apply if the sandwich (or other item), is prepared to order in front of the consumer and then packed at the consumer’s request. This is non-prepacked food and the retailer/caterer must provide information on the presence or use of allergens in a manner that is easily accessible for the consumer - in a similar way to meals served in a café or restaurant. The guidance provides suggestions and examples of how this can be achieved.