By
7th Jun 2021

You may already be aware that as of 1st October 2021, Natasha’s Law will come into effect. The pandemic may have dominated your thoughts for the last year, however, the forthcoming allergen changes will have a wide impact on the catering industry as a whole and it is important to ensure you’re prepared when the new legislation comes in.

TUCO (The University Caterers Organisation) are a CPC partner who supply in house catering goods and services. This article from Mike Haslen, CEO of TUCO, will explain to you how the implementation of Natasha’s Law will affect your catering service and how you can prepare for when the new legislation comes in.

 

What is Natasha’s Law?

Named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who at the age of 15 passed away due to a severe allergic reaction, the new legislation is designed to protect those with allergies and give them greater confidence in the food they buy. Natasha had a serious sesame allergy and didn’t know that sesame seeds had been baked into the bread of a sandwich she had bought. The packaging did not display any allergen information and so Natasha was reassured that the food was safe for her to eat. 

Following Natasha’s death, her family has campaigned for increased transparency of UK food labelling; as a result, Natasha’s Law comes into force later this year.

 

What does it mean for me?

The new law will mean changes for everyone in the industry who sells packaged food at the location it is produced. All food businesses will be required, by law, to explicitly show every ingredient present in any food, which are produced and packaged on site, such as on cakes, sandwiches, salads etc. Currently, foods prepacked for direct sale (PPDS), made on site and then wrapped for sale that day are not subject to the same laws as food items such as a sandwich which is produced by an external supplier and is then delivered for sale to a food business. Starting from 1st October, you must provide full ingredient labelling on foods that are PPDS.

The legislation will apply to any type of outlet – from a small coffee shop, or sandwich bar, to a large restaurant with a grab-and-go counter.

The new law does not apply to food that is made to order, takeaways or deliveries. However, you must continue to provide allergen information to customers for dishes ordered as a takeaway, delivery, or to eat-in.

You can use this tool from the FSA to help you determine whether your outlets sell PPDS food.

 

What does full ingredient labelling involve?

You will need to ensure the label has the following information clearly displayed:

  • Name of food
  • A full list of ingredients in weight order (heaviest first)
  • Allergens in the product, emphasised in bold

You must provide mandatory information on the presence of any of the 14 major allergens; celery, cereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats), crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and lobsters), eggs, fish, lupin, milk, molluscs (such as mussels and oysters), mustard, peanuts, sesame, soybeans, sulphur dioxide and sulphites (if they are at a concentration of more than ten parts per million) and tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts).

You can use TUCO’s Code of Practice on the management of food allergens, as a guide.

 

What can I do now?

I’ve listed below some ways in which you can ensure you and your staff are ready for the changes. Should you have any questions about how TUCO can help you be prepared, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

All CPC members are eligible to join TUCO for free. Once you're a member, you can purchase goods and services via TUCO's procurement regulation compliant catering frameworks and access their wide range of suppliers. Should your institution provide in-house catering but are not currently a member of TUCO, click here to find out how you can join.

  • Ensure your staff are trained on the 14 allergens and are confident about advising customers. Research has shown that as many as 68% of UK hospitality employees admit to requiring more information about allergies.

TUCO members have access to the TUCO Academy which offers e-learning, training courses and virtual webinars specific to allergens. There are a few of these on our website also to watch back if you missed one. Contact our Head of Academy, sarah.mcloughlin@tuco.ac.uk if you would like more information.

  • Think about the way in which technology can help you implement the legislation. According to a survey by Access, 71% of respondents said they were reliant on manual processes when it comes to allergen management. It doesn’t need to be a fully manual process. 

TUCO Online, for example, can support you through the process by allowing you to access crucial information on potential allergens in the ingredients that are bought in and seeing how they are being used by catering staff to create dishes. We have also recently implemented the ability to create and print your own labels via TUCO Online. 

  • Try implementing the new rules before October 1st so that you’re ready for when it’s made mandatory by law and your processes can run smoothly. 
  • You should also communicate the changes with your customers so those with allergies feel confident in eating at your establishment and all your customers understand the reason for doing do.

There are lots of resources available on the Food Standards Agency (FSA) website, so do take a look. However if you have any concerns or queries feel free to contact myself on mike.haslin@tuco.ac.uk or 0161 713 3421 / 07929402908 or anyone at TUCO for advice. Our community forum for members is also a great platform to share ideas or ask questions of your peers.