There has been a lot in the press recently surrounding food allergens. This recent coverage serves as a reminder to all operators who serve food that allergies need to be taken seriously and that you should ensure you have robust policies and procedures in place, and all staff are trained so customers can be fully advised before they order.
There are new allergen regulations expected to be in force by Summer 2021 and known as ‘Natasha’s Law’, following the tragic death of a teenager in 2016 due to an allergic reaction. Natasha Ednan-Laperouse consumed a sandwich that contained sesame seeds, to which she was allergic, but the packaging did not list all the ingredients and allergens that the sandwich contained.
This is because, under current law, businesses only need to ensure pre-packed food and drink prepared off-site is clearly labelled with an ingredients list. If it is prepared on-site for direct sale, you only need to make sure that allergen information is given in writing – it does not need to be displayed on the packaging.
Once Natasha’s Law is in force, it will require businesses to label all products, including those products that are prepared and packaged on-site with a full ingredients list.
The Government delayed the implementation date in the hope that this will give businesses enough time to prepare for the change and here are three ways in which you can get ready:
Your staff should already be trained on allergens and communicating them to customers, but, over the next two years, training should be enhanced to ensure there are no mistakes made when it comes to labelling in 2021.
Implementing new technology is costly, but ensuring your systems are up to date will be important. There may be apps or databases that can be used to assist you in identifying ingredients so keep an eye out over the next two years.
See it as an opportunity
If customers with allergies can see you are ahead of the game with the rule changes, they may well have more confidence in your offer. There are more than 2m allergy sufferers across the country.
There will, no doubt, be further updates and advice as implementation comes closer so watch this space.
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