Stricter labeling rules on certain food products in Scotland will apply beginning later this year.

The legislation requires businesses to include the product name and a full ingredients list, including allergen information, on foods classified as pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS). Current rules allow allergen information to be provided by any means including verbally by staff.

Such foods include items packed at the same place as being offered to consumers like sandwiches placed into packaging by the business and sold there, wrapped deli counter goods such as cheese and meats, and boxed salads on a refrigerated shelf prior to sale. It can include food that customers select themselves, as well as pre-wrapped products behind a counter. It also covers some food sold at mobile or temporary outlets.

Any food not in packaging when it is ordered, or loose and packaged after being ordered, is not included such as unwrapped pick ‘n’ mix sweets and counter served popcorn.

Natasha’s Law
On pack information will include the 14 allergens listed in food information law and other ingredients that can trigger reactions.

The move follows the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016, who had an allergic reaction to a baguette containing sesame that did not require allergen labeling. The regulation is referred to as Natasha’s Law and will come into force on Oct. 1 to align with changes being made in England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Ross Finnie, Food Standards Scotland’s (FSS) chairman, said it is a step forward in providing clear information for people with allergies.

“While the best level of consumer protection is vital, we recognize that changing labeling requirements will affect businesses, and have carried out extensive stakeholder engagement across industry and enforcement authorities to assess the benefits, risks and impacts,” he said.

FSS recommended improved allergen labeling for such foods in mid-2019 and held a comment period in late 2020.

Mairi Gougeon, public health minister, said having information about allergens and ingredients upfront on the labels of all prewrapped food is crucial for people with food allergies.

“Everyone wants to understand more about what is in their food and we want to give them increased confidence about the food that they buy. I recognize that this is also a challenge for industry, which is why we are announcing these changes now. FSS will continue working with stakeholders over the next eight months to help industry prepare for when the new labeling requirements come into force in October,” she said.

FSAI labeling consultation
Meanwhile, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has opened a public comment period on the proposed revision of a number of labeling issues.

The “Food Information to Consumers – Front-of-Pack Nutrition Labelling, Nutrient Profiles, Origin Labelling and Date Marking” comment period will gather opinions to inform the national position on European reforms aimed at helping consumers to make more informed choices when choosing food.

Areas under review include possible extension of mandatory origin or provenance labeling to other products and a revision of EU rules on “use by” and “best before” date marking to help reduce food waste. It is open until March 25.

Pamela Byrne, FSAI chief executive, said the comment period is an opportunity for opinions in Ireland to be heard.

“The plans to review and potentially revise the EU food labeling legislation may have an impact on the food industry and its product packaging. The majority of food legislation in Ireland originates from the EU, so taking part and voicing opinions now is paramount to help inform the national position.”

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