How Natasha’s Law Will Affect Small Producers & Retailers
From October 2021 Natasha’s Law will be coming into force in the UK. While some businesses will have been making preparations for it long in advance, 81% of food and beverage businesses do not feel prepared and 41% are oblivious to it according to a survey by GS1 UK.
With that in mind, we felt that it would be helpful to write a brief explainer of the law, who it affects and what producers and retailers will need to do to ensure compliance.
What Is Natasha’s Law?
Natasha’s Law was created in reaction to the death of a young girl with severe allergies after eating a bun with sesame seeds baked into it. After the 2014 labelling laws came into force, she had felt confident that by reading the label of a pre-packaged food she could avoid coming into contact with substances that would cause her to have an anaphylactic reaction. Unfortunately, those laws didn’t go far enough - the baguette she ate was not required to put a full ingredient list on the label.
Natasha’s law ensures that all pre-packaged foods for direct sale (PPDS) must include a FULL ingredients list on the label with any potential allergens highlighted in bold. There are two million people affected by allergies in the UK, so we see this as a positive and inclusive step for the food and beverage industry.
When will Natasha’s Law come into effect?
Natasha’s Law will come into effect on October 1st 2021 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. From this point any business that produces PPDS will be required to label it with the name of the food, a full ingredients list and place a visual emphasis on any potential allergens on that list.
What businesses are affected by Natasha’s Law?
Any business that produces PPDS. This can include food that is selected by the consumers themselves behind a display counter or food sold at mobile/temporary outlets.
PPDS includes any food that is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold and is in this packaging when it is ordered or selected. It does not include food that is not packaged, or is packaged after being ordered by the consumer.
Examples would include:
- Sandwiches/bakery products that are packaged on site before a consumer selects them.
- Fast food packed before it is ordered, such as a burger under a hot lamp that cannot be altered without opening the packaging.
- Produces pre-packaged on site and ready for sale like salad and pasta pots, pizzas and rotisserie chickens.
Crucially for ShelfNow buyers it also does not include food that is packed by one business and supplied to another business. That counts as pre-packed food and should already have full ingredient and allergen labelling.
These labelling requirements also do not apply to ‘distance’ selling. That means food ordered on the phone or online.
For full guidance on who is and isn’t affected please read this resource from the Food Standards Agency.
How Natasha’s Law Will Affect Small Food And Beverage Retailers
If you package food on your site for customers to buy, you’ll need to be compliant with Natasha’s Law no matter your size. We appreciate that this might not be easy - small retailers have already had to do huge amounts of work during the pandemic to comply with COVID restrictions, and this is an extra burden.
The FSA has produced a handy tool to help you understand if you need to make changes and what you need to do. If you can’t adapt your current produce to be compliant you’ll either need to change the produce or buy packaged food from a compliant supplier.
If you already buy your packaged food from another supplier, it does not count as PPDS but it still needs a full ingredients list and allergen highlighting.
The FSA has produced extensive guidance on Natasha’s Law including sector-specific advice and examples. If you think you may be effected by Natasha’s Law we’d advise that you read it carefully.