Food businesses in England and Northern Ireland will have to include full ingredients labeling on pre-packaged foods by summer 2021.
The new law was announced by Michael Gove, Environment Secretary, and is known as “Natasha’s Law” after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a teenager who died in 2016 after an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette which did not display allergen information on the packaging.
Currently, food prepared on the premises in which it is sold is not required to display allergen information in writing. The new legislation will require foods pre-packed directly for sale to carry a full list of ingredients. The government plans to introduce the legislation this summer and it will come into force by summer 2021 to give businesses time to change.
“These changes will make food labels clear and consistent and give the country’s two million food allergy sufferers confidence in making safe food choices,” said Gove.
Parent’s response and new foundation
Natasha’s parents Tanya and Nadim welcomed the decision to have full allergen and ingredient labeling.
“While Natasha’s Law comes too late to save our beloved daughter, we believe that helping save other allergy sufferers and their families from the enduring agony that we will always bear is a fitting legacy for her life.”
Nadim and Tanya also launched the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. They are in discussions with Southampton University to create a global allergy research center.
Jill Paterson from Leigh Day, who represented the pair at the inquest into their daughter’s death, said: “Through the trauma of the inquest this incredible couple have shone a light onto a poor law which had such tragic consequences for their daughter. To change that law, and to do so with such dignity, has been an inspiration for us all.”
The announcement is the result of a U.K.-wide consultation, launched in January, on updating allergen labeling laws for foods prepacked for direct sale. It included four options: full ingredient list labeling; allergen-only labeling; ‘ask the staff’ labels on products; and promoting best practice to businesses. More than 70 per cent of people backed the option for full labeling.
FSA recommendation and allergy groups reaction
The Food Standards Agency also recommended government should implement full ingredients labeling for all pre-packed for direct sale foods.
“We know that the impact of food allergy and intolerance on quality of life can be as great or even greater than almost all other foodborne diseases. While it is impossible to eliminate the risks entirely, we believe the Secretary of State’s announcement of this change in the rules will mean better protection for allergic consumers,” said Heather Hancock, chair of the FSA.
The EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation lists 14 allergens that must be emphasized on labels. They are celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, mollusks, mustard, tree nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if more than ten parts per million). In the United States, there are eight major allergens. These are milk, egg, fish, crustacean shell fish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts and soybeans. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is considering adding sesame to the list.
“This move towards full ingredient labeling for pre-packed direct sale food will improve the lives of the allergic customer and it is warmly welcomed here at Allergy UK,” said Carla Jones, CEO of Allergy UK.
“We are thrilled that DEFRA is taking forward full ingredients labeling on pre-packaged food for direct sale. We believe this is the right step forward to protect individuals with severe food allergies,” said Lynne Regent, CEO of the Anaphylaxis Campaign.
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