A bill known as “Natasha’s Law” has been introduced by Michael Gove, and is set to make food labelling more thorough after the tragic death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse following an allergic reaction.
Under current legislation, food that is prepared and sold on the same premises is not required to display allergen information on its packaging. The move towards full ingredient labelling is set to come into force by summer 2021, giving businesses two years to implement the changes.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from Fulham died after suffering a severe reaction on a flight to Nice in 2016, after unknowingly eating sesame, which she was allergic to, in an artichoke, olive and tapenade sandwich from Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport.
Natasha’s parents have campaigned tirelessly since her death for legislation to make all pre-packaged food clearly marked. At the Inquest into Natasha’s death, the Coroner noted that Natasha had probably been reassured by the lack of specific allergen information on the packaging.
Since Natasha’s death, Pret ran a number of pilots and has introducing full ingredient labels in over 60 of its outlets. They fully support a change in legislation.
These changes will make food labels clear and consistent and enable the country’s two million food allergy sufferers to make informed and safe food choices.
According to Food Standards Agency figures, there are 4,500 UK hospital admissions a year from food allergies and 10 food allergy deaths in the UK with 8% of children and 2% of adults affected by food allergies or intolerances.
Whilst some concerns have been voiced over the difficulties smaller businesses may face in complying with these new requirements, leading to less choice for consumers and a worrying overreliance on labelling, for most, this legislation is long overdue and a very welcome development.