Environment secretary Michael Gove announced that a new law will require all businesses who sell food products to include labelling with a detailed list of ingredients as a way of protecting the two million people in England who suffer from food allergies.
This follows the tragic death of a teenager named Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, after she had an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette. The legislation was confirmed by the Environment Secretary, who stated that this new legislation will be in effect from the end of summer to enhance allergen labelling rules.
The new legislation is called “Natasha’s Law”, and will ensure the rules are more strict regarding the foods that are pre-packed. All foods that are pre-packed directly for sale need to have a full list of ingredients. This will give allergy sufferers the information and confidence they need to buy food.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s parents Tanya and Nadim said:
“We are absolutely delighted that the Secretary of State has announced the government’s decision to go ahead with full allergen and ingredient labelling. While Natasha’s Law comes too late to save our beloved daughter, we believe that helping save other allergy sufferers and their families from the enduring agony that we will always bear is a fitting legacy for her life.
“We would personally like to thank Michael Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock for their unflinching support in doing the right thing on behalf of all people with allergies, and their support in setting up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation which we are launching today in Natasha’s memory”.
Businesses will have time to adapt and change, as the government will bring the legislation into full effect by summer 2021. 70% of consumers backed the “Natasha’s Law” option, after 4 options were proposed in a consultation held in January. The Food Standards Agency’s advice also suggested that the government should introduce full ingredients labelling.
Chair of the Food Standards Agency Heather Hancock said:
“We want the UK to become the best place in the world for people living with food hypersensitivities.
The impact of food allergy and intolerance on quality of life can be as great or even greater than almost all other foodborne diseases.
Whilst it’s impossible to eliminate the risks entirely, we believe this change will mean better protection for allergic consumers”.
Allergy UK CEO Carla Jones said:
“We are delighted with the news that Defra’s labelling review backs mandatory full ingredient labelling for pre-packed direct sale food.
“This move towards full ingredient labelling for pre-packed direct sale food will improve the lives of the allergic customer and it is warmly welcomed here at Allergy UK”.
An “Easy to Ask” campaign launched by the Food Standards agency (FSA) makes it easier for people with allergies to ask businesses about ingredients used in their food products. Food businesses will continue to receive guidelines on allergens, and how to implement the correct labelling to make it safe for consumers ahead of the finalisation of the new law.