Natasha’s Law: Understanding Food Safety and Allergens

Are you ready for Natasha’s Law? In July 2016, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse bought an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette from Pret a Manger in Terminal 5 of Heathrow Airport. Halfway through her flight, Natasha developed a severe allergic reaction to the baguette. Tragically, Natasha died later the same day from the reaction.

The inquest that followed found that sesame, an ingredient Natasha was severely allergic to,  was not listed as an ingredient on the baguette. As a result of these events, in September of this year, the government announced its intention to introduce a new law to tighten food safety, including labelling requirements. “Natasha’s Law” will come into effect on 1 October 2021.

How Does Natasha’s Law Effect Your Business?

Up until now, food prepared on the premises in which it is sold — known as foods ‘pre-packaged for direct sale’ (PPDS) — does not need to display allergen information on the label. But when Natasha’s Law comes into force, all food businesses in England (and later, in the UK), will need to list all the ingredients of food PPDS.

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To help you understand current food safety requirements, and prepare in advance of Natasha’s Law, our Fizz Academy team recently hosted a 30-minute webinar on the topic of food safety and allergens. The recording of the webinar is now available for you to watch at no cost here. If you are in any way involved with a food business, our webinar could help you with a topline discussion about the issues that you and your staff need to understand when it comes to food safety and allergens. Here are some of the subjects covered in the webinar…

  • Prevalence of allergies. Did you know that 1 in 3 people will develop allergies at some point during their life? That’s approximately 2.5 billion people worldwide.
  • Types of allergenic hazards. The webinar includes an overview of the 14 major food allergens. Certain well-known allergenic ingredients are in more foods than others and thus pose the biggest risk to consumers. Some allergens—like sulphur dioxide and oats—are less well known and tend not to raise a red flag.
  • Symptoms of an allergic reaction. The most common type of allergic reaction to food is an “IgE-mediated food allergy”, for which symptoms include things like dizziness, itching in the mouth and sneezing. Others develop a severe, life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.
  • Food labelling for ingredients and allergens. Under Natasha’s Law, foods pre-packed for direct sale must have a full ingredients list and allergenic ingredients must be emphasised wherever they appear.
  • Definitions. In the webinar, we explain what qualifies as ‘pre-packed for direct sale’ and how to follow food labelling rules.
  • Controlling allergenic hazards. The Fizz Academy team also explain how to keep your customers safe by training staff, how to make it easy for customers to ask about allergens, and more.

Alternatively, if you are a business owner concerned about Natasha’s Law and want to ensure your staff are fully equipped to deal with changes in the law, it is recommended to consider retraining your team in Food Hygiene & Safety. How to deal with allergies safely in food preparation and delivery are subject matters covered in both classroom and online courses.

Why Consider Learning Food Hygiene and Safety?

A Level 2 Food Hygiene & Safety course is comfortably the most common training course taken by everyone from sandwich makers to waiting, staff and cooks. It’s a foundational course that provides a minimum qualification for anyone who is being employed to handle food. With stricter measures in place within food productions, including the introduction of Natasha’s Law a qualification should be a top priority for anyone involved in the preparation of food over the coming months. The courses help employees understand the importance of food hygiene — including the systems, techniques and procedures involved — and develop confidence and expertise in delivering & selling food safely.

There is also a legal requirement that everyone who handles food in any capacity in a catering environment has received the appropriate supervision and training. The Highfield Level 2 Award in Food Safety in Catering (RQF) is a qualification that fits this bill perfectly and is the most popular food safety qualification accepted by enforcement officers and auditors, accounting for 70% of all regulated food safety qualifications and certifying over 350,000 people every year.

The course covers the following topics:-

Law Compliance – One of the most important aspects of any hygiene and safety course is that what you are learning complies with government standards. Now, more than ever, we must be complying with the law on both a moral and customer relations level.

Scientific Knowledge – Not only does the course cover the more general practices and precautions that employees should be taking, it also underlines the science behind those practices. This includes all of the microbiological, chemical, physical and allergenic hazards of a food-based environment and how to control them.

Practical Advice – There are several practical tips offered by the course that might otherwise be overlooked by those who haven’t come from a food preparation background. These include the practicalities of temperature control and stock rotation, as well as tips for keeping work areas and equipment clean and safe at all times.

Personal Hygiene – This is the big one, as in a post-lockdown world, whilst businesses can take every possible precaution to encourage employees to practice good hygiene, it is ultimately up to the individual. By learning the best personal hygiene practices and their significant importance, individuals will have the best possible chance of preventing contamination. This goes beyond simple hand washing and also includes best practices on protective clothing, cuts and reporting illness, which will be particularly important in a world still living with coronavirus.

Waste Disposal and Pest Control – Pest control is a fundamental aspect of every food safety course but when it comes to waste disposal, there are going to be more stringent expectations in place given the potential for coronavirus contamination.

What Should be Your Next Steps?

‘Natasha’s Law’ will help protect allergy sufferers and make it easier for them to identify safe foods. But this new legislation brings new and legally binding requirements to food businesses that need to be understood and acted upon before the 1st of October 2021. For some businesses, the necessary changes are substantial and will take time to put in place. So, it’s important to act now. Watch the recording of our webinar for guidance.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Speak to Our Team

Our friendly team at Fizz Training Academy are always on hand to help answer any queries you might have around Natasha’s Law, Food Hygiene and helping you find a suitable method of training. Contact the Fizz Training Academy today to speak to a member of our sales team.

Author: Rebecca Potter