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  1. ITV Report

‘Natasha’s Law’ for allergy sufferers as her parents reveal their daughter would be 'punching the air' over the victory

  • Video report by ITV News Health Correspondent Emily Morgan

Food allergy sufferers will be given greater protection under a new law introduced by Michael Gove following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.

“Natasha’s Law” will require all food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged food, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs announced.

The legislation, which will apply to England and Northern Ireland, is due to come into force by summer 2021.

Natasha, 15, died after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret baguette.

Her parents Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse told ITV News that Natasha would be thrilled with the news.

Mrs Ednan-Laperouse said: ''She would be punching the air with every victory we've had. And this would be the biggest punch. She would be over the moon.''

EpiPens came under fire from Sean Cummings, the coroner presiding over Natasha's inquest, after he described them as not fit for purpose.

Mr Ednan-Laperouse told ITV News improving them is a mission they hope to achieve next in their daughter's name.

He said: ''Hand on heart, we are not confident they are fit for purpose in the way that they should be.

''Through Natasha's legacy, a charity we are launching today, we are committed to putting that right.

''People with food allergies rely on having adrenaline auto injectors as their backstop. It's like a life ring that you throw into the water - it has to work.''

Natasha, from Fulham, west London, suffered a severe allergic reaction after unknowingly eating sesame contained in an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette she had bought from a Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport.

The 15-year-old died of anaphylaxis after collapsing on board a flight to Nice on July 17 2016.

Her parents have previously called for the so-called law to make all pre-packaged food clearly show allergens, which they have discussed with the Environment Secretary.

Under current rules, food prepared on the premises in which it is sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff – is not required to display allergen information on the package.

Natasha’s parents, Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse have been campaigning since her death. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The new legislation will tighten the rules by requiring foods that are pre-packed directly for sale to carry a full list of ingredients, Defra said.

Natasha’s parents, Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, said the introduction of the law would be a “fitting legacy” following their daughter’s death.

They 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.”

Natasha’s parents, Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, said the introduction of the law would be a 'fitting legacy'. Credit: Family handout/PA

The trade body which represents the UK’s hospitality sector acknowledged the “sensitivity” around the legislation being introduced, but cautioned that new food labelling practices could be “impractical and potentially hazardous”.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “We are worried that full ingredient labelling is going to prevent the kind of dialogue we need to promote.

“Some smaller businesses may struggle with the unwieldy new legislation and it is almost certainly going to lead to much less choice for customers.

“There is also a risk that the new measures, which will not circumvent cross-contamination and will be open to mislabelling, will only promote a dangerous reliance on labelling.”

Natasha's family speaking after the inquest into her death:

Although the new legislation is due to be introduced by the summer, businesses will be given a two-year implementation period to adapt to the change, the department said.

The Government launched a consultation into food labelling laws in January, with businesses and allergy suffers invited to have their say on four options put forward by the department.

Proposals included mandating full ingredient listing, allergen-only labelling, “ask the staff” labels on all products, or promoting “best practice around communicating allergen information to consumers”.

More than 70% of individuals backed the option for full ingredients labelling, Defra said, and recent advice from The Food Standards Agency recommended full ingredients labelling.

Mr Gove called Natasha’s parents an “inspiration” following the announcement of the law.

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“Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse have been an inspiration in their drive to protect food allergy sufferers and deliver Natasha’s Law,” he said.

“These changes will make food labels clear and consistent and give the country’s two million food allergy sufferers confidence in making safe food choices.”

Defra said food businesses across the country had already taken steps to improve food labelling and were urging outlets to do all they can ahead of the implementation date to help consumers make safe food choices.

World expert on allergies explains why they're more prevalent:

Professor Stephen Holgate, from the department of medicine at the University of Southampton, spoke to ITV News about why more people now have allergies than in the past.

He explained how allergies "affect one in three people in the United Kingdom" and warned their "prevalence has increased tenfold in the last 25 years".

He added: "Not only has allergy become more common but each of the allergic diseases has become more severe."

He says the reason for this is due to lifestyle choices.

"We've changed our diet dramatically over the last 30 years," he said, adding: "We're exposed to hundreds and hundreds of different new chemicals."

"We are doing things today - interacting with our environment - in an entirely different way than we did 30 odd years ago."

He added: "All of these things are changing the way our bacteria exists, both in our gut, on our skin and in our lungs and the change of those bacteria has altered the immune response.

"People are becoming more sensitive, they're becoming allergic."

Despite allergy research in the UK being "very good", he says other countries, such as Germany and the US have "massive investment".

In this country, he says, allergy research "has not had the same recognition".