Heather Hancock chair of the Food Standard Agency (FSA) said:
‘I warmly welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement: this is an important step forward in our ambition for the UK to become the best place in the world for people living with food hypersensitivities.
We know that the impact of food allergy and intolerance on quality of life can be as great or even greater than almost all other foodborne diseases.
While it is impossible to eliminate the risks entirely, we believe the Secretary of State’s announcement of this change in the rules will mean better protection for allergic consumers.’
The announcement is the result of a UK-wide consultation, launched in January, that sought views on updating food allergen labelling laws for foods prepacked for direct sale. It followed the tragic death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, as a result of an allergic reaction to a baguette she had eaten which did not display allergen information on the packaging.
The consultation was the result of vigorous campaigning by Natasha’s parents, Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse. It invited opinion on four options, of which Option 4 required all ingredients labelling on foods prepacked for direct sale, the level which her parents designated “Natasha’s Law”.
The next step for Natasha’s parents is to campaign for wide-scale research.
Speaking to Action Against Allergy Tanya said:
‘We have launched Natasha Allergy Research Foundation (www.narf.org.uk) with the aim of setting up a global allergen research centre at the University of Southampton to seek a cure for allergies through pioneering research. Our aim is to fund allergy medical breakthroughs, support academic and industry research and develop new therapies that will offer hope for effective allergy treatments; never taking our eyes off our goal which is to find a cure.
Natasha’s tragic death must be a catalyst for a radically different approach to how we as a society, invest in finding solutions to this illness that now impacts so many lives around the globe. We are delighted that the launch of the foundation coincided with the announcement from Environment Secretary Michael Gove of Natasha’s Law, which we have been campaigning for since the end of our daughter’s inquest last October 2018’
‘Prepacked foods for direct sale’ are foods that have been made and packed on the same premises from which they are being sold. For example, a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.
Currently, these foods are not required to carry labels and information on allergens, as it is expected that the customer can speak with the person who made or packed the product for this information. This has led people mistakenly assuming that the food does not contain any allergens.
Many food businesses have already taken steps to improve food labelling. Others who have yet to make changes are being urged to do all they can ahead of the implementation date to help consumers make safe food choices.
27th June 2019