Natasha's law: Eight in 10 food business owners not prepared for new allergy safety legislation

The death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse led to a lobbying campaign by her parents to better protect food allergy sufferers. Credit: PA

The majority of food business owners have said they are unprepared for new food safety legislation due to come into effect in October.

Experts have described the lack of awareness about the new rules - which will require all pre-packaged foods in the UK to carry allergy information and full ingredient lists - as "worrying".

Natasha's law was put forward following the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction from a Pret A Manger sandwich in July 2016.

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

Partial labelling was 'recognised as being a loophole in the law and it needed correcting', Natasha's mother, Tanya, says

The teenager died of anaphylaxis after collapsing on board a flight to Nice, prompting her parents to campaign to change the law around food labelling to better protect food allergy sufferers.

But one month out from the law’s introduction on October 1, research commissioned by global standards organisation GS1 UK found that 40% of businesses had not even heard of Natasha's law.

Natasha's mother, Tanya, stressed the importance of proper food labelling, telling ITV News: "What caught us out and the reason our 15-year-old daughter Natasha died was because of partial labelling."

"She read the label that was on the baguette, she trusted what she read but unfortunately sesame seeds had been baked into the dough of the bread. They weren't visible to the naked eye and that killed her."

"It was really something that was immediately recognised as being a loophole in the law and it needed correcting."

What is Natasha's law?

Announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2019, Natasha's law will require all food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged food from October 1, 2021.

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.

According to the new rules, pre-packaged food will have to clearly display the following information on the packaging: name of the food and full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised.

It is being introduced to protect allergy sufferers and give them confidence in the food they buy.

These changes will apply to businesses in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In 2018, ITV News Correspondent Martha Fairlie reported on Natasha's family's campaign for better food safety legislation

The analysis, based on responses from 500 industry employers and employees, showed that eight in 10 felt unprepared for the new regulations coming into effect.

This was despite 90% saying they have received plenty of information about the new law.

Around half of food franchise employees (48%) in small independent businesses had heard of Natasha’s Law, according to the study.

Henry Dimbleby MBE, author of the National Food Strategy said: “Natasha’s Law represents a hugely positive, yet complex transformation for the food sector, one fraught with risk.

“It is worrying that the awareness of the changes is inconsistent, but not particularly surprising after everything the sector has had thrown at it over the last 18 months.