Updated: Jun 8
Natasha’s Law comes into effect in October this year and is likely to impact your business. According to UK Food Minister Zac Goldsmith, “The introduction of this law will make it easier for allergy sufferers to make clear, safe choices when buying food.”
The new law dictates that food businesses must include full ingredients labelling on pre-packed foods for direct sale, with particular emphasis on allergens. If, for example, your staff prepares a salad in your premises and places it on a shelf for sale later in the day - this will need to be properly labelled with a complete list of ingredients.
How is this different from today’s legislation? Currently, food prepared on the same premises in which it is sold does not need to display allergen information on its label. This results in a lack of consumer trust, especially for those who suffer from food allergies.
Natasha’s Law Guidance: This labelling reform will require your business to adapt and re-think its procedures. Here are 5 key things you need to consider in preparation for the new legislation:
1. Collating Ingredient Information
Make sure you collate ALL ingredient information for your food products and pay special attention to allergens. Consider how this information should be presented to consumers and make sure to use a clear format that’s easy to access and understand. You may want to set up a new food-labelling system to comply with the new stricter requirements.
2. Suppliers & Substitutions
It’s vital to check that food is being prepared in a consistent manner and in line with recipes and specifications.
Suppliers may provide substitutions that contain different ingredients - you should put a procedure in place to highlight differences in ingredients and in particular allergens, to avoid inaccurate labelling on the final prepared food.
3. Training Your Staff & Raising Allergen Awareness
Making everyone in your team aware of these changes is paramount. It’s also vital they understand the importance of cross-contamination controls, of following recipes, and of knowing the key 14 allergens.
You can opt for training your staff in-house - preparing a document or presentation can be a very effective way to impart knowledge. Alternatively, you can choose to train your employees through an external or online course; there are many good ones available.
4. Evaluating the Risk
Continuously reviewing your processes is key to maintaining good food management systems and practices. Doing so helps you identify weaknesses, allowing you to make changes where necessary and implement corrective actions. Always make sure to assess how you’re doing things and what could go wrong.
No one knows your processes better than you - but reaching out to an expert can be very helpful.
5. Technology & Tools
If you want to maximise labelling accuracy and consistency, technology can help. There are many great solutions for labelling and recipe management out there, including Star Chef and Brother.
Ensuring your staff are following the correct process checks is also important. A hospitality checklist app, Hubl is designed to make daily operations easier, covering key tasks like cleaning and temperature checks.
Why Is Natasha’s Law So Important?
Natasha’s Law is named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a 15-year-old who passed away due to a severe allergic reaction. Natasha had a severe allergy to sesame seeds and wasn’t aware these had been baked into a sandwich she had bought.
The new legislation will allow allergy sufferers to make “clear, safe choices when buying food”, says Food Minister Zac Goldsmith, and makes for “a significant moment for the millions of allergy sufferers in England”.