Natasha’s Law: How it might affect your business

Food is something that everyone should be able to enjoy, but even a simple sandwich can cause a huge risk for some. Allergies to certain foods have the potential to cause very serious consequences and so it is vital that everything is labelled properly in order to protect those who might be vulnerable. Natasha’s Law has been brought in to ensure that this is done correctly, so here we take a look at what this means for food preparation and retail businesses.

What is Natasha’s Law?

Food allergies are not just about rashes and stomach pains, they can also bring about anaphylaxis, which has the ability to kill. They are found within a wide variety of foods including nuts, seeds, fish, dairy and fruits to name just a few. These are not always obvious and can be hidden within food. In some cases, simply having been in contact with an ingredient rather than including it within the food can be enough to bring about a reaction.

Natasha’s Law came into force in October 2021 and bears the name of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a 15-year-old girl who sadly died in 2016 after having a serious anaphylactic allergic reaction to a baguette that she ate. The packaging failed to mention that the product contained sesame seeds and had lethal effects. Natasha has trusted the packaging and this seemingly small omission cost her life.

This tragic event led to a campaign for a change in the law by her family and other supporters which took the form of the UK Food Information Amendment. It has highlighted exactly how dangerous some allergies can be, and that failing to identify the ingredients of a product can be devastating. This means that all food vendors are now required by law to provide a full list of ingredients on any pre-packaged food.

 

What does this mean for food preparation businesses?

The responsibility for the correct labelling on food falls to both the vendor and the supplier. If the vendor has purchased food from elsewhere, they must ensure that anything they put onto their shelves has been correctly labelled. If they prepare the food themselves, they will have to devise the labels on their own. In the case of preparing food to order, such as in a café, canteen or restaurant, the vendor is not required to label items but must highlight any relevant allergy information.

Information about allergies should be clearly printed on the packaging of individual items and you should not be reliant on giving verbal information from members of staff, as this reduces the risk of mistakes. All kitchens should take great care over how they prepare food to ensure that there is no cross-contamination as labelling can then become misleading. Food vendors and suppliers should also be prepared to respond quickly to ingredient changes and update their labelling systems immediately to not only list the new ingredients but to highlight to the consumer that the recipe has changed.

There are an estimated 2 million food allergy sufferers in England alone who will now feel more protected. This comprehensive information can also benefit those who do not have allergies when it comes to making informed choices about the food that they are eating. Failure to adhere to the new laws can lead to fines of up to £5,000 per offence as well as suffering reputational damage and potentially compromising the health of customers.

Consumers are reliant on the correct food labelling to be in place, as it could quite literally save their lives. It is therefore important that this is taken seriously by everyone involved in the process to ensure that the health of everyone is paramount and terrible cases like Natasha’s never occur again.

 

Remember that you can Ask a lawyer if you have any further questions.

Jamie-Leigh James

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