By the end of this summer, new allergen regulations are expected to be in force, called Natasha’s Law. As a challenger free-from snack brand, we welcome and embrace this change – and we urge the food & drink sector to do the same. The new legislation has been named Natasha’s Law after the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016 who died on an aircraft in her father’s arms from anaphylactic shock.
Natasha who was allergic to sesame, died after buying a baguette from Pret a Manger that didn’t specify it contained the allergen. She suffered a fatal allergic reaction and died at the age of 15 about a hour after consuming the sandwich. Nothing could be done to save her. Since her passing, her parents have been campaigning for a change to the law to protect other sufferers. Our CEO has supported this campaign as it could so easily have been her…
Julianne who also suffers from anaphylaxis and has recently become an ambassador for the Anaphylaxis Campaign which has been at the forefront of change. She is currently planning work with them during 2021 as she’s serious at supporting them to make life better for children and adults who have anaphylaxis, allergies and intolerances. One of the campaigns has been for ingredient lists to be on food labels, and for restaurants to list ingredients on their menus. http://www.julianneponan.com/im-an-ambassador-for-the-anaphylaxis-campaign/
What are the major changes to regulations which will come into effect under Natasha’s Law?
- Pre-packed food and drink prepared off-site needs to be clearly labelled with an ingredients list.
- However, if you are making pre-packed food on-site for direct sale (as happened with Pret a Manger), you only need to ensure that the allergen information is given in writing. And this doesn’t have to be a label with a full ingredients list. It can be on a menu, chalkboard or information pack.
- This information can also be a written notice informing customers where they can find the details, for example, by talking to a member of staff.
Often this is inadequate, staff don’t know any detail, may even ask someone to leave because the ‘sufferer’ is too difficult to cater for or the ‘sufferer’ may choose to leave because they cannot risk eating something which may contain a trigger for their allergies.
The main change:
- Products prepared and packed on-site must be labelled with a full ingredients list.E.g. a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day, must be fully labelled before being placed in the shelf for purchase.
The reaction so far:
There have been some hesitant reactions to the new rules. Some retailers have said how difficult it will be for small stores with only two members of staff, and how time consuming it will be. Others have suggested that food could still be mislabelled, and the new law might encourage an ‘over-reliance’ on labels.
We refute that at Creative Nature – anaphylaxis is serious and can be fatal. No one expects to buy a sandwich, cake or another simple product and die from eating it. Saving just one person will make it an effort worth making. Also a label on a product – in our view – is a binding agreement that the information provided is accurate and correct. Sadly, these new rules won’t apply to Scotland and Wales, where law-makers are waiting to see the impact on the rest of the UK.
Food labelling at Creative Nature:
Here at Creative Nature we already accurately and prominently label all of our products, because of Julianne’s personal investment in providing safe food for our customers. Customers know when they shop on our online store, they will be able to see the exact ingredients our products include – and also what they do not include.
They are 14 allergen-free including dairy and gluten free. Most have vegan recipes provided so they are vegan friendly and also reduced sugar content. Where we have recipes on our site, there are always options and alternatives to foods that cause allergen sufferers problems. We see Natasha’s Law as a great move forward. It doesn’t remove the responsibility of the anaphylaxis sufferer to check labelling, and be careful about what they eat, but it does mean that the food industry also has to step up when it comes to liability, and show a care for all of their customers.
How businesses can prepare? Train your staff to understand what allergens are, and know how to communicate information to customers. Train them to understand how serious anaphylaxis can be and how quickly it can come on with serious or even fatal consequences. The Anaphylaxis Campaign can provide support for this. You can visit their website here – https://www.anaphylaxis.org.uk
Although costly, it is important to ensure your technology systems are up to date, so you may need to invest in new technology to support your business to implement the new labelling rules.
There are over two million allergy sufferers over across the UK, which means that for many it is hard to buy food, or eat in restaurants with confidence. Those numbers are rising across the world, so this is an increasing issue.
A business which is ready and responsive to the new rules is establishing their reputation as a business that cares about their customers, and listens to their needs. People like Julianne will shout about those – and also those who suffer from such allergies or anaphylaxis are likely to be powerful, returning customers.