Businesses will be subject to a new labelling law from today, in a move that will impact 2m people in the UK with food allergies.
The law is known as Natasha’s Law, following the death of teenage girl Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a sandwich on a flight. The sandwich was not required to have ingredients labelling at the time.
Under the new legislation, businesses will be forced to label all food that is prepacked for direct sale with a full list of ingredients, with the 14 major allergens emphasised in the list.
Products now required to be labelled include pre-wrapped sandwiches, fast food already in packaging before a customer places their order, and supermarket items like cheeses and meat from the deli counter that are already wrapped and ready to be served.
Some 2m people live with food allergies, intolerances and coeliac disease across the country.
Food items that are pre-packaged in a different location to where they are sold already require full labelling with an emphasis on allergens. The new law will impact food packaged at the same place they’re sold.
“If these changes drive down the number of hospital admissions caused by food allergies, which has increased threefold over the past 20 years, and prevent further tragic deaths such as Natasha’s, that can only be a positive thing,” FSA chief executive Emily Miles said.
She added: “I understand how difficult the past 18 months have been for food businesses, and I am grateful for the effort that so many have made to prepare for the changes.”
Local authorities have been advised to deal with minor errors through guidance in the early months of the legislation’s introduction.
Except where circumstances require immediate action, local authorities responsible for enforcing the law are being advised to take a proportionate and risk-based approach to breaches of the law.
The FSA is advising that minor errors are dealt with through extra guidance and support with the changes, particularly during the early months.
Natasha’s parents, Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, said the introduction of the law was a “bittersweet moment” for them.
“We are delighted that people with food allergies will now have great protection through improved labelling and we know in our hearts that Natasha would be very proud of a new law in her name. However, the new law also reminds us that Natasha’s death was completely avoidable,” they added.