In January 2019, the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) opened a consultation on the proposed amendments to the domestic Food Information Regulations 2014 (FIR) (England) and parallel FIR regulations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales relating to allergen information for foods that are prepacked for direct sale to the consumer on the same premises from which they are sold.
The review of allergen labelling legislation followed from the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a baguette from Pret a Manger at Heathrow airport in July 2016. The Coroner who presided over the inquest of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse concluded that the legislation was not adequate and requested a review.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign would like to say how fantastic Natasha’s parents, Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, have been in raising the issues around food safety for all people with food allergy at this very difficult time for them.
A total of 1,675 individuals, 126 businesses, 83 public sector bodies and 24 non-governmental organisations responded to the consultation. In May 2019 the Food Standards Agency (FSA) held an Extraordinary Board Meeting on food allergies and recommended to Ministers the adoption of full ingredient list labelling, with allergens emphasised on products pre-packed for direct sale.
The Anaphylaxis Campaign was pleased to see such great engagement from our individual and corporate members, and would like to thank all who responded to this consultation and actively engaged in discussion at workshops held by DEFRA.
On 25th June DEFRA announced that the Government plans to introduce the new legislation this summer. This will mandate full ingredients labelling for foods that are prepacked for direct sale. It is proposed that the new laws will come into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by summer 2021, giving food businesses time to adapt to the change. The Scottish Government also intends to take forward full ingredient labelling for foods prepacked for direct sale and aim to implement the new laws by autumn 2021.
The new legislation, known as ‘Natasha’s Law’, covers foods that are prepared and packed on the same premises from which they are sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase. The reform will require these products to carry a full list of ingredients with the 14 allergens emphasised (for example in bold font or underlined). Currently, these foods are not required to carry labels, and if asked by a consumer allergen information must be given in person by the food business.What are the different types of food products and how should information be provided?
Pre-packed food is any food that’s put into packaging before being placed on sale. Most of the food you see on the supermarket shelves or in your local grocery store comes under this category. Pre-packed food must have an ingredients list and any of the 14 key allergens must be included in that list and emphasised – for example, in bold, italic or coloured type.
There are no changes to the labelling for these types of products.
Pre-packed foods for direct sale
This applies to foods that have been packed on the same premises from which they are being sold. The changes only apply to this type of food. Once the changes are in place food businesses will need to ensure that these types of products carry an ingredients list and any of the 14 key allergens must be included in that list and emphasised.
Non-prepacked foods and foods sold loose
Non-prepacked food and food sold loose are typically available from restaurants, takeaways, bakeries and institutional caterers. It also includes foods packed at the customer’s request such as a sandwich from a sandwich shop where the food business makes the sandwich as per your request at the time.
It will remain that the food business will need to provide information about the use of the 14 allergenic ingredients in a food but will not be required to provide a full ingredients list. This information can be written down on a chalk board or chart or provided orally by a member of staff. Where the specific allergen information is not provided upfront, clear signposting to where this information could be obtained must be provided.
There are no changes to the labelling for these types of products.
For foods that have been made and packed on the same premises from which they are being sold you will be able to check the ingredients label to identify if the food products contain your allergen as an intended ingredient.
If your business prepares and packages food products on the same site that it sells them from, you will need to include a full ingredients label on each of the products.
For food businesses which provide non-prepacked food, such as retailers, restaurants, takeaways, bakeries and institutional caterers and not pre-packed for direct sale products there will be no changes. You will continue to need to provide information about the use of the 14 allergenic ingredients in a food but will not be required to provide a full ingredients list. This information could be written down on a chalk board or chart or provided orally by a member of staff. Where the specific allergen information is not provided upfront, clear signposting to where this information could be obtained must be provided.
Will guidance be issued for business?
Yes, the Government announced that the Foods Standard’s Agency (FSA) guidance will be published alongside the legislation to support businesses and local authorities, with more detailed guidance set to be published by the end of the year.
It was also announced that the FSA will be working with businesses to help them put the necessary checks and controls in place to validate and verify allergen information on packaging. They will create an industry community for food businesses to accelerate sharing of best practice; and improve allergen knowledge and awareness for businesses so that they are aware of their responsibilities. The Safer Food Better Business pack will be revised to incorporate management of allergens in small businesses.
The FSA will also work with businesses and representative organisations during the implementation period to support sharing of allergen initiatives and best practices.
It is proposed that the new laws will come into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by summer 2021, giving food businesses time to adapt to the change. However, while the Government has announced plans to introduce the law for England and Northern Ireland, Ministers in Wales are currently reviewing consultation responses and advice from the FSA, and intend to make a decision shortly and the Scottish Government intends to take forward full ingredient labelling for all PPDS foods, and aims to implement changes by autumn 2021.
If you are a member of the food industry and would like more information please see our guide to protecting allergic consumers