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A New Law

A new law has been introduced to protect allergy sufferers and give them confidence in the food they buy.

Why the new law?
Following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, the teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette, ‘Natasha’s Law’ will strengthen allergen labelling rules and help protect the millions of allergy sufferers in the UK.

What will it do?
The new law will tighten the rules by requiring foods that are pre-packed directly for sale to carry a full list of ingredients – giving allergy sufferers greater trust in the food they buy. The government has introduced legislation mandating full ingredients labelling for foods pre-packed for direct sale, and the new law will come into force by October 2021 – giving businesses time to adapt to the change. ‘Natasha’s Law’ proposes four options: include full ingredient list labelling; allergen-only labelling; ‘ask the staff’ labels on products; and promoting best practice to businesses.

What’s the current law?
Food prepared on the premises in which it is sold is not required to display allergen information in writing, meaning allergy sufferers sometimes lack confidence when buying food out of home. Foods that are prepared and packed on the same premises from which they are sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase – are not currently required to carry labels. If asked by a consumer, allergen information must be given in person by the food business.

How can businesses prepare?
Food businesses across the country have already taken steps to improve food labelling and outlets are being urged to do all they can ahead of the implementation date to help consumers make safe food choices. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) will continue to provide food businesses with guidance on allergens, and through its ‘Easy to Ask’ campaign it works to empower young people to ask food businesses about allergens when eating out so they can make safe food choices.

Chair of the Food Standards Agency Heather Hancock said: “We want the UK to become the best place in the world for people living with food hypersensitivities. The impact of food allergy and intolerance on quality of life can be as great or even greater than almost all other foodborne diseases. Whilst it’s impossible to eliminate the risks entirely, we believe this change will mean better protection for allergic consumers.”

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