Businesses unprepared for new allergen law

Eight in 10 food business owners feel unprepared for new food labelling regulations due to come into force in a matter of weeks.

From October 1st, all food businesses will have to provide full ingredient lists and allergen information on foods pre-packaged for direct sale in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The introduction of Natasha’s law follows the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette. 

Research by standards provider GS1 UK found four in ten workers across the food industry have never heard of Natasha’s law. Around 50% more chain and franchise employees had heard of Natasha’s law than those in small independent food businesses.

The study of food businesses, including food manufacturers, wholesalers and grab and go retailers, found eight in ten owners admitted they felt unprepared for the new food regulations coming into effect, despite 90% saying they have received plenty of information about the new law.

One fifth of small independent businesses felt the new legislation was coming in too soon and did not leave enough time to adapt, whereas just 2% of food chains and franchises held this view.

“Natasha’s Law represents a hugely positive, yet complex transformation for the food sector - one fraught with risk. It is worrying that the awareness of the changes is inconsistent, but not particularly surprising after everything the sector has had thrown at it over the last 18 months,” said Henry Dimbleby, author of the national food strategy for England.

GS1 UK is calling for universal standards to be used to digitise the food supply chain to ensure Natasha’s Law is implemented successfully. “We believe that 2D barcodes – like a QR code or DataMatrix – should be used on a product’s packaging, no matter what type of product it is,” said Anne Godfrey, CEO of GS1 UK. “These barcodes can hold significantly more information about a product and can also link to additional data sources which either a supplier or consumer can access through a quick scan.” 

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