From 1st October 2021, the requirements for prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) food labelling will be changing in Wales, England, and Northern Ireland, because of a new ruling passed in September 2019 known as ‘Natasha’s Law.’ According to the Food Standards Agency, ‘the new labelling requirements will help protect consumers by providing potentially life-saving allergen information on the packaging of the food.’
What is Natasha’s Law?
This new legislation was brought about in 2019, thanks to the actions of a lobbying group led by the parents of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse: the teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to sesame seeds, the undeclared ingredient in a pre-packed baguette. There was no specific allergen information on the sandwich packaging; therefore, Natasha assumed it was safe for her to eat.
This is the loophole that the lobbying group has sought to close and, due to their efforts, the government confirmed that stronger laws would be implemented to protect those with food allergies and give them greater confidence in the food they buy.
According to the new rules, PPDS food will have to clearly display the following information on the packaging:
- Name of the food
- Full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised (for example in bold, italics or a different colour)
These changes will apply to food vendors in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Similar changes are expected to be introduced in Scotland by Food Standards Scotland.
It is estimated that almost 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from an allergy.
How can schools prepare?
Schools will be required to list all ingredients and allergens on the labels of any food made on site – such as snacks, sandwiches, wraps, salad pots, cakes, etc. – that are pre-packaged prior to break or lunchtime.
This will apply to any foods that are in the packaging before it is ordered or selected. It can include food that students select themselves, as well as pre-wrapped food items that are kept behind a counter and some hot foods.
All food vendors are being urged by the Food Standards Agency to make these changes as soon as they can, ahead of the implementation date. Therefore, it is recommended that schools implement full ingredient listing on any pre-packaged foods as soon as possible to protect students and the school. Once a law is announced, there is an implicit expectation to comply without waiting until the mandatory implementation date.
For more information on the new legislation, you can visit the Food Standards Agency website here.