Jacqui McPeake, Director & Founder JACS Ltd & Senior Allergen Adviser for the Allergen Accreditation Scheme

The EU FIC (Food information for Consumers) Allergens Law 2014 produced a list of the “Top14” ingredients that cause 90% of reactions in the EU. The Law states that if a customer asks about the Allergen content of a meal or product, then the food business must be able to provide accurate information. This list however does not cover everything, in fact the reports of reactions to foods outside the “Top14” has increased and many people have even reacted to common foods such as Kiwi fruit, Strawberries, Pepper, Apples, Peaches, Potatoes. There has also been a rise in reactions to foods in the legume family such as chickpeas, peas and lentils – this corresponds to a rise in the popularity of vegan foods.

On October 1st, 2021 a new allergen law will come into force, commonly known as Natasha’s Law. Natasha Ednan Laperouse bought a baguette before boarding a plane with her father and friend. The baguette did not have a label to identify all the ingredients. Natasha had a severe allergy to Sesame Seeds which were an ingredient for the dough used to make the baguettes.

The sesame seeds were not visible and Natasha sadly suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction whilst on the plane.

Natasha’s Law covers any food made on the premises, wrapped and ready to eat, displayed for the customer to choose the product themselves. This is known as PPDS -Pre- Prepared for Direct Sale. This includes sandwiches, baguettes, salads, cake and cookies which may be displayed in a chilled cabinet. The customer will usually choose the item themselves and will not normally have a conversation with a staff member, therefore the ingredient and allergen information must be clearly visible on a suitable label.

How Natasha’s Law Impacts the Hospitality Sector

Every business will need to decide how they will collate and display ingredient information. Food businesses should have all their recipe and ingredient information on a recipe database. There are labelling solutions readily available which will link to the operator’s database and will produce accurate labels daily. If the information in the recipe database is updated, the label will include the new recipe information which will ensure accuracy.

It has been suggested that due to the Covid pandemic, restaurants have been closed for several months and that Natasha’s Law should be delayed; however, it has been confirmed that October 1st 2021 is the date that this law will be enforced.

Be Allergen Accredited

I am a Senior Allergen Advisor for the Allergen Accreditation Scheme. This is a national scheme which is available to anyone preparing and serving food such as schools, universities, hospitals, restaurants, hotels etc. Clients complete an initial online audit which is followed up with a physical audit of the premises. The audit is very robust and covers all aspects from suppliers and procurement, storage, preparation and service of food to customers. The successful client will be a member of the Scheme for 3 years and can promote their success to their customers, reassuring them that they are pro-active and knowledgeable when
managing allergens.

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