Natasha's Law, the new legislation on allergen labelling for food packaging, came into force on 1 October. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is hosting a campaign and free, multilingual resources to help businesses understand and comply with the new legislation.
It is now a legal requirement for all food businesses to provide full ingredient lists and allergen information on foods pre-packaged for direct sale in the UK. Natasha's Law has been introduced following the tragic death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from an allergic reaction to a baguette that contained sesame seeds. The packaging on the baguette did not declare allergens and at the time, was not required to do so.
Named ‘Be Allergy Aware' the campaign aims to raise vital awareness of the legislation within the food industry. CTSI have also made resources available for food businesses to help ensure they are compliant with Natasha's Law. These include:
- A user-friendly factsheet for businesses
- A series of multi-lingual posters to urge customers to tell staff about any allergies they have.
- An informative and in-depth video which explains the risks of improperly labelled food.
‘Be Allergy Aware' has been created by the Greater Gwent Food Group, an alliance comprised of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport City and Torfaen councils. With the support of the Food Standards Agency (FSA), the campaign urges businesses to "double-check, never guess" whether the food they sell contains ingredients that may be allergens. They should also always ask customers if they have any food allergies or intolerances.
There are 14 allergens that must be declared by law when used as ingredients: celery, cereals containing gluten, crustaceans, eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs, mustard, nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, soya and sulphur dioxide.
While Natasha's Law has been warmly received by campaigners, regulators and consumer groups, recent research has discovered an alarming lack of awareness on the new requirements on the part of the food industry. Standards organisation GS1 have found that eight in 10 food business owners do not feel adequately prepared for the new regulations. Worryingly, four in 10 have not heard about Natasha's law at all.
Click here to view the allergen training resource for businesses.
David Pickering, CTSI Lead Officer for Food Safety, said: "CTSI welcome the introduction of the requirement to provide consumers with information on labels about allergenic ingredients on a wider range of food.
"This additional information will enable consumers to make safer informed choices and whilst it may be a challenge for some food businesses, they can seek advice from their local trading standards service on this important issue."
Dilys Harris, Senior Trading Standards Officer, Caerphilly County Borough Council, on behalf of the Greater Gwent Food Group said: "We are proud to launch this valuable resource on food allergens which has been produced with the support of the FSA and Trading Standards Wales. It will be used by local authorities across Wales, England and Northern Ireland and is suitable for food businesses, food law enforcement officers and educational establishments.
"We aim to promote the importance of clear, accurate food information that consumers can trust and the supply of safe food'."
Natasha Allergy Research Foundation said: "We are delighted to see the Greater Gwent Food Group launch a multi-lingual resource to assist food businesses in preparing for compliance with Natasha's Law coming into effect in less than a month. It captures the essence of the work our charity has done by reinforcing a key message of ‘Never Guess, Be Safe Not Sorry, Be Allergy Aware' and we are confident this tool will be instrumental in creating awareness for staff within local business by creating an understanding of the importance of food allergy safety in saving lives." #BeAllergyAware