18th June 2021
Andrew Pond, Business Development Director for Civica, explores some of the key questions you may be asking about Natasha's Law.
What is Natasha’s Law?
Under changes to the Food Information Regulations which comes into force on 1st October 2021, covers food which is prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) that must be labelled with a list of all ingredients, including emphasised allergens in bold, italics, uppercase, coloured text or any combination of these.
This change is the result of a UK-wide consultation following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from an allergic reaction to a baguette she had eaten. The baguette did not display allergen information on the packaging.
What does prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) mean?
PPDS is defined as “food packed before being offered for sale by the same organisation, on the same premises/site.” This could include menu items such as prepacked sandwiches made on site, boxed salads, fresh pizzas served on a tray or bagged cookies/cakes baked in the kitchen. It does not include food packed at a consumer’s request, food not in packaging, or food which is supplied prepacked, such as a packet of crisps. (existing rules already apply to the supplier in this case).
What are the technical requirements of labelling?
The Regulations state that labels must be sufficiently visible, readable for those with visual impairments and in minimum font sizes as defined by the Food Standards Agency, proportionate to the size of the label.
What are the 14 allergens that must be emphasised?
- Celery (including celeriac)
- Cereals containing gluten (including wheat, kamut, spelt, barley, oats)
- Lupins (used in some baked good as seed or flour)
- Milk molluscs mustard nuts (specifically tree nuts)
- Sesame (including tahini)
- Soya (soy and soybean) and
- Sulphur dioxide or sulphites (which must be declared in concentrations of more than 10mg/kg or 10mg/litre).
What are the main challenges for caterers ahead of the changes?
The big challenge will be getting the necessary information from suppliers, collating that information to produce an accurate ingredients list for wide-ranging and frequently-changing menus, and then presenting that information clearly to users.
With so many processes involved, making those changes manually will be an almost insurmountable task, particularly if menus are changed often.
What can you be doing to prepare?
If you haven’t already, review your processes (and, if needed, your suppliers) to make sure you can achieve all of the above efficiently. For many, the answer lies with catering management software like Civica Catering Management (formerly Saffron), which brings together all the individual elements of an efficient, profitable and safe catering operation. Civica Catering Management provides efficiency, governance and visibility to help ensure compliance, without compromising on cost or productivity.
A good software solution should provide the functionality to integrate with suppliers for nutritional and allergen information, export that data and send it to your labelling supplier of choice in the most appropriate format. Civica Catering Management gives you the facility to do that now – months ahead of the Regulations coming into force.
What labelling solutions are available?
Caterers can use handwritten labels, or pre-printed labels but this is only really viable if the products and ingredients don’t change often. A better solution is Civica Catering Management, which interfaces with labelling suppliers to enable labels to be automatically produced from exported data.
Where can I find more information?
The Food Standards Agency has published a wealth of information online (www.food.gov.uk) including an introduction to allergen labelling changes and a Technical Guidance document to food allergen labelling and information. There is also guidance and information available from the National Allergy Research Foundation (https://www.narf.org.uk/natashaslaw).
For more specific support on how our software can help your organisation to achieve compliance, speak to us. We are helping education, healthcare and cost sector caterers with a programme of activity including blogs, webinars and other resources in the months leading up to this change.