From 1 October 2021, the Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations 2019, more widely known as Natasha’s Law, will come into force. Natasha’s Law was introduced into Parliament as a result of tragic deaths due to allergy sufferers’ going into anaphylactic shock after eating a food product which was produced and packaged on the premises but did not list the ingredients on the label.
Natasha’s Law requires all food products which are Pre-Packed for Direct Sale to have a label which provides the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with the allergens emphasised.
What are products ‘Pre-Packed for Direct Sale’?
Products which for the purpose of the Regulations are Pre-Packed for Direct Sale if:
- The product is made into the form it will be sold in on the same premises as where it will be sold; and
- Is packed in sealed packaging before being ordered by the consumer; and
- Will be sold in that sealed packaging; and
- Will be sold to a final consumer or mass caterer.
For example, in a butcher’s shop, it is common for ‘meat packs’ to be sold which might contain a selection of different meats. If a customer orders a meat pack, and you put the meat pack together in front of the customer after they have ordered it, then Natasha’s law would not apply. If, however, you have already made up an identical meat pack and packaged it ready for sale and the customer asks for a meat pack, and you just hand over the pre-packed meat pack, that would be caught by Natasha’s law and require a label.
The inclusion of sales to mass caterers is particularly important for butchers, as they sell to caterers on a regular basis.
What would ordinarily be a time saver on a busy day of pre-packing products could cause you to fail foul of enforcement action under Natasha’s Law. There will be a choice for many businesses with a direct sale offering. Either to make up and package every item to order, or to invest in more extensive food labelling.
As the date for the new rules is fast approaching, now is the time to start thinking about what needs to change and how to go about it. As the consequences of failing to comply with allergen labelling can be so severe for the consumer, enforcement bodies will be looking out for any breaches once the law comes into force.
Enforcement action for failing to comply could be in the form of Enforcement Notices and/or Criminal investigations leading to prosecution.
If you are in doubt about whether you will require labels with full ingredient lists from 1 October 2021, seek advice now.