'Natasha's Law' introduced to make food labelling more thorough after Pret death
24 June 2019, 23:47 | Updated: 25 June 2019, 04:52
A bill known as "Natasha's Law" has been introduced by Michael Gove, which is set to protect allergy sufferers after the death of a teenager almost three years ago.
According to the Department of Environment, Food and rural Affairs (Defra), the legislation will require all food businesses to clearly label the full ingredients of pre-packaged food, and is set to come into force by summer 2021.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from Fulham in London died after suffering a severe reaction on a flight between London and Nice in 2016, after unknowingly eating sesame, which she was allergic to, in an artichoke, olive and tapenade sandwich from Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport.
Her parents had called for the legislation to make all pre-packaged food clearly marked, and have previously discussed it with the environment secretary.
Defra said the law will mean that food pre-packaged for direct sale will have to carry a full list of ingredients.
Under current rules, food that is prepared and sold on the same premises, is not required to display allergen information on its packaging.
Natasha's parents, Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse say the law is a "fitting legacy" following the death of their daughter.
They said: "We are absolutely delighted that the Secretary of State has announced the Government's decision to go ahead with full allergen and ingredient labelling.
"While Natasha's Law comes too late to save our beloved daughter, we believe that helping save other allergy sufferers and their families from the enduring agony that we will always bear is a fitting legacy for her life.
"We would personally like to thank Michael Gove and Health Secretary Matt Hancock for their unflinching support in doing the right thing on behalf of all people with allergies, and their support in setting up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation which we are launching today in Natasha's memory."
However, UKHospitality, the body which represents the hospitality sector says the new rules could be "impractical and potentially hazardous", but recognises the "sensitivity" around the legislation.
CEO of UKHospitality Kate Nicholls said: "We are worried that full ingredient labelling is going to prevent the kind of dialogue we need to promote.
"Some smaller businesses may struggle with the unwieldy new legislation and it is almost certainly going to lead to much less choice for customers.
"There is also a risk that the new measures, which will not circumvent cross-contamination and will be open to mislabelling, will only promote a dangerous reliance on labelling."
Environment Secretary Michael Gove called Mr and Mrs Endnan-Laperouse an "inspiration" after the announcement of the law.
He said: "Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse have been an inspiration in their drive to protect food allergy sufferers and deliver Natasha's Law.
"These changes will make food labels clear and consistent and give the country's two million food allergy sufferers confidence in making safe food choices."
Allergy UK also welcomed the law, saying it was delighted with the legislation.
Head of the charity Carla Jones said: "This move towards full ingredient labelling for pre-packed direct-sale food will improve the lives of the allergic customer and it is warmly welcomed here at Allergy UK."