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Natasha’s Law now in force – are you compliant?

Since 1 October 2021, the requirements for prepacked for direct sale food labelling changed, offering increased protection to the estimated one in four people with food allergies in the UK.

What is PPDS?

Prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) is food that is:

  1. presented to the consumer in packaging;

  2. packaged before the consumer selects or orders it; and

  3. packaged at the same place it is sold.

PPDS food includes, for example, prepacked sandwiches which are packed on site and placed into a chiller before a consumer selects or orders them. It also includes fast food that is packed and placed under a hot lamp before it is ordered by the consumer where the food cannot be altered without opening the packaging.

Food that is not in packaging when it is ordered (for example, fried chicken that is not boxed under a hot lamp) or is packaged after being ordered (for example, fast food made-to-order) is not PPDS.

What’s changed?

The Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019 (the ‘Regulation’) places additional labelling requirements on PPDS foods.

The label for PPDS food must now show:

  • the name of the food;
  • an ingredients list; and,
  • any of the 14 allergens* emphasised in the ingredients list if present in the food.

Allergens can be emphasised using bold type, capital letters, contrasting colours or through underlining.

Why the change?

The Regulation is colloquially referred to as ‘Natasha’s Law’ and is the result of a lobbying group led by the family of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a tragic fatal allergic reaction in 2016 after unknowingly consuming a baguette that contained sesame.

Before the Regulation, PPDS food did not require allergen labelling on its packaging and could be provided by any means including verbally.

What happens if you don’t comply?

Failure to comply with the Regulation is a criminal offence which can lead to significant fines and imprisonment, in addition to personal injury claims for failing to correctly label PPDS, and the obvious reputational impact.

What should food businesses do to comply?

There are multiple options food businesses can consider when deciding how to label their PPDS food including pre-printed packaging / labels and handwritten food labels.  However, food businesses should:

  • Have already worked out what, if any, PPDS food items they sell / supply;
  • Ensure that these foods are correctly labelled;
  • Ensure that there are clear internal policies and procedures in place to comply with the Regulation;
  • Check if there is a significant risk of cross-contamination from allergens;
  • Ensure there is adequate training of staff;
  • Carry out (and record) appropriate due diligence on their supply chain;
  • Check what contingency plans are in place should your ingredients change due to supply issues or new recipes; and,
  • Carry out regular reviews of products, policies and procedures relating to PPDS.

*The 14 allergens are: celery, cereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats), crustaceans (for example, prawns, crabs and lobsters), eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs (such as mussels and oysters), mustard, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if at a concentration of more than ten parts per million) and tree nuts (including almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts).

Disclaimer

This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.

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