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Natasha’s Law is the new allergen legislation that comes into force on 1 October 2021 and will require food packed on the same site from which it is sold to be labelled with full ingredients.

How did Natasha’s Law come about?

The law came about following the tragic death of teenager, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to eating sesame in a freshly prepared baguette that did not display allergen information on the packaging.

A consultation was held in early 2019, which proposed several different options on how rules around allergens could be tightened to offer UK food-allergy sufferers additional protection. According to the government, more than 70 per cent of respondents backed the chosen option for full ingredient list labelling. The Food Standards Agency also supported this.

What will change when Natasha’s Law comes into force?

Currently, any food which is prepared and packed on the same premises from which it is sold is not required to carry labels, and if asked for by a consumer, allergen information must be given in person by the food business. Natasha’s Law will require food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on prepacked foods for direct sale.
This means that:

  • Businesses will need to label any products prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list.
  • Businesses will need to check whether their products require PPDS labelling and what steps they should take to comply with the new rules.

To check if your business sells PPDS food, check the Food Standards Agency allergen and ingredients food labelling tool.

How does Natasha’s Law impact takeaways?

Natasha’s Law does not directly impact businesses such as takeaways that operate a distance-selling model (e.g. food purchased over the phone or on the internet). However, if you do sell PPDS this way, you will need to ensure that steps are taken to provide mandatory allergen information to the consumer:

  • Before the purchase of the product – this can be in writing (via website, catalogue or menu) or over the phone
  • When the food is delivered – this can be in writing (via allergen stickers on food or an enclosed copy of a menu) or over the phone

How can UK food businesses prepare for new allergen regulations?

With less than three months until the law comes into force, it is important to take action and be prepared for when Natasha’s Law does come into place. According to a report by labelling printers, Brother, only 20% of businesses are completely prepared for Natasha’s Law. So what steps can you take?

1. See it as an opportunity

Awareness around allergens has increased over the years, but there are as many as two million allergy sufferers across the UK, many of whom find it difficult to buy food in shops and restaurants with confidence.

Natasha’s Law is designed to give those with allergies complete certainty that the food they are buying is safe for them to eat. 82% of businesses surveyed in Brother’s report said that the way food is labelled affects how their brand is perceived. As a food business, getting ahead of the rule change and implementing it correctly will give consumers, especially allergy sufferers, confidence in what you have to offer.

2. Use digital marketing

Allergy sufferers have a strong supportive community, and many are on forums and groups talking about their favourite local businesses where they have had a good experience or found the labels clear and informative. This will then help establish a trusted reputation both with customers who may choose to shop at your business in favour of your competitors and within the wider community.

Using your digital platforms could unlock a unique selling point for your business. Are your prepacked sandwiches free from specific allergens such as dairy? Making this information more accessible via your website or talking about it on social media will help boost your business’s visibility.

If you are looking for ways to make the most of your online presence, take a look at our in-depth marketing promotion guide.

3. Train your staff

It might seem obvious, but it is important to train your staff to be well informed about allergens. To further prepare for Natasha’s Law later this year, additional support and training could be wise to ensure you keep your customers, staff and business protected.

Did you know that the Food Standards Agency provide free online training and safety courses to help you, your business and your staff comply with standards such as Natasha’s Law.

4. Check whether you have public and products liability cover

Public Liability cover offers protection for your business if a member of the public makes a claim for a covered event, for example, if they suffer an allergic reaction after consuming your products. You would need to demonstrate that you have not been negligent and that you have adhered to legislation and guidelines, in which case your Public Liability cover should assist towards the costs of the claim and any compensation.

The Retail Mutual is in your corner

With food-to-go one of the fastest-growing areas in the retail and service sector, the implications of Natasha’s Law are likely to be widely felt. Taking steps to prepare for it now will help ensure you, your customers and your livelihood are protected.

Call. Quote. Covered.

If you want a stronger business for a stronger future, then choose The Retail Mutual as your business cover provider. Since its inception in 1999, The Retail Mutual has grown to provide cover to over 100 different trade types including retail, hair salons, barbershops and catering businesses. Why not see what we can do for your business by getting a free no-obligation quote from us? Start your quote online today or speak to a member of our service team by calling the number below.

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