19th March 2021
Andrew Pond, Head of Business Development, outlines the forthcoming changes to the Food Information Regulations, and how Civica Saffron can help your organisation meet them.
There are fewer than seven months now until changes to the Food Information Regulations – known as Natasha’s Law – come into force on 1st October 2021. From that date, any food which is prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) must be labelled with a list of ingredients, including emphasised allergens in bold.
This is a huge change in allergen management which will impact retailers, schools, hospitals, contract caterers and anybody else who prepares food on site for sale or for employees/users.
Understanding the changes
At first glance, it can seem like a daunting change for caterers. The Food Standards Agency has published a guide to the new regulations, along with a 41-page Technical Guidance document which sets out all of changes and requirements in detail.
In summary, PPDS is food packed before being offered for sale by the same organisation, on the same premises/site. This may include prepacked sandwiches made on site, boxed salads, fresh pizzas served on a tray or bagged cookies/cakes when baked on the premises. It does not include food packed at a consumer’s request, food not in packaging, or food which is supplied prepacked to the school (existing rules already apply to the supplier in this case).
Labels must be sufficiently visible, readable for those with visual impairments and in minimum font sizes as defined by the Food Standards Agency. The maximum fine for non-compliance is £5,000 per offence, although the risk to human life goes way beyond financial penalty.
The change is the result of a UK-wide consultation following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016 from an allergic reaction to a baguette she had eaten which did not display allergen information on the packaging.
Effectively, the new labelling requirement closes a gap in allergen management and the Food Standards Agency says it will help to protect consumers ‘by providing life-saving allergen information on the packaging of the food.’ It is estimated that two million people in the UK have food allergies and an average of ten people die each year from food-related anaphylaxis.
Taking steps to ensure compliance
As with any new legislation, caterers should be taking steps to prepare themselves well in advance and the key lies with catering software management like Civica Saffron, which brings together all the individual elements of an efficient, profitable and safe catering operation.
Catering management software supports caterers across the public sector, foodservice and hospitality industries to improve the efficiency of complex catering operations, which includes maintaining compliance with nutritional standards and allergen management regulations.
The message is clear. Natasha’s Law is coming soon and catering operations across all sectors must take steps now to make sure they are engaging with suppliers, establishing a strategy for labelling and ultimately meeting the new requirements to improve food safety.
A resource for Natasha’s Law
Over the coming weeks and months we’ll be identifying the main challenges brought about by these changes, running a series of initiatives to help educate and support our clients across core sectors. This includes caterers working in education (schools, MATs and universities), healthcare and the broader cost sector.
- What are the implications for food that is not ‘sold’, such as hospital patient meals and school dinners?
- What is the impact across your organisation, from purchasing and procurement, to catering managers and kitchen staff?
- What labelling solutions are available?
- The pros and cons of changing your procurement strategy from preparing/packing on site to sourcing prepacked items
- How do you manage allergen information for non-packed food?