“Natasha’s Law” – Statutory Instrument Published


October 31, 2019| by AmyDunning

The events that led to the tragic death of 15 year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse have been extensively reported.  In 2016, Natasha selected a baguette sandwich from a Pret-a-Manger outlet in Terminal 5 of Heathrow airport. The sandwich had been prepared (or ‘assembled’(1)) and packaged in-store earlier that day.  Natasha then boarded a plane to Nice, France for a short summer break as a special treat with her friend and with her father.  

Natasha had been ‘reassured’(2) that the product was safe for her to eat (by the absence of specific allergen labelling on the packaging).  During the flight, Natasha became ill and tragically, despite her father administering two epipen shots, she died later the same day.

Under the relevant law at the time, businesses (of any size) were not required to directly label allergen (or any ingredient) information on products that had been prepacked for direct sale on the sales premises (so-called “PPDS” foods); instead, they were permitted to direct the consumer (by means of in-store signs/labels) to ask a member of staff, should they wish to know whether any allergens have been intentionally(3) added to the product.  Such signs or labels were to be readily discernible and placed where the intending purchaser chooses their food.  

As a result of Natasha’s tragic death; the Coroner’s subsequent report, and the tireless campaigning of her family, the government has taken action and, after consultation with business and the public, the law has now changed.

It is important to understand that the new rules will apply only to PPDS foods; by contrast, loose foods and foods packed at the consumer’s request are out of scope of the new regulations; the rules regarding these products remain unchanged.  Of course, it is also important to note that ‘ordinary’ prepacked foods have been required to label full ingredients and allergen information for a number of years now, and these rules are not changing either.  

Under the new rules – which are set to come into force in England on 1st October 2021 (after a 2-year transition period) and are also expected to come into force in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland in the Autumn of 2021(4) – PPDS foods will also now be required to carry all ingredient information, as well as the name of the food, on the individual product packaging.  Any allergens intentionally used in the product will need to be emphasised in the ingredients list (giving parity with the rules for ordinary prepacked foods).  

Distance Selling

As per the original regulations, the new rules will not apply to distance selling.  However, notwithstanding this exemption, and in recognition of the fact that many of Nielsen Brandbank’s customers will wish to go beyond the minimum requirements, Nielsen Brandbank is able to capture and create content for online distance selling use, supporting the objectives of Natasha’s law.  

While not recognised by the regulations, there is nonetheless effective parity of purpose with the spirit of the regulations on the one hand and circumstances, on the other hand, where PPDS foods could be purchased online and subsequently delivered to the consumer (albeit usually at a later date).  This being so, if you have an online food retail presence and you offer your customers the option to purchase products, which will have been packaged in-store on the day of delivery (noting that this will often not be the day of sale/purchase) you may wish to ensure your customers have full ingredient and allergen information presented to them online, notwithstanding the limited scope of the regulations.  If you do, Nielsen Brandbank is ready to support you.  

Food Labelling Compliance Service

With an estimated 2m consumers in the UK who, like Natasha, have an allergy to certain foods, it is more important than ever to ensure that food labels are accurate and comply with regulations.  

At Nielsen Brandbank, we recognise the gravity of the circumstances behind these changes and the heart-wrenching events around Natasha’s tragic death, which gave rise to them.  We also recognise that our unique position within the market enables us to support these important regulatory changes in the digital sector.  

The simple fact is that online compliance starts with offline compliance and a non-compliant physical (offline) product is likely to result in a non-compliant digital (online) product. That is why we have teamed up with a trusted law firm (Cracknell Law) to deliver a comprehensive, fully legally backed, food labelling compliance service.  

By using this service during the early stages of product development, our customers will receive complete peace of mind that the compliance of their food label artwork has been rigorously reviewed to the highest standards.

Where a label is found to be compliant, our customers will also then have the option for the product to be processed through Nielsen Brandbank’s industry leading core content capture services, which have been empirically tested by Trading Standards and proven to consistently produce digital brand content that will allow the user to be compliant online.  

We are proud that together, our Food Labelling Compliance Service and our industry-leading content capture services, enable our customers to ensure that you can take the most robust and responsible approach to implementing not only “Natasha’s Law” but all relevant laws applicable to your product(s), both offline and online.  

For further information, please contact the Nielsen Brandbank team on +44 (0) 330 555 33 44 or email enquiries@brandbank.com.

1 Point 5(1) of the Asst. Coroner’s Report noted the distinction between a local shop with a small number of items, and a large multi-national business that relies in large part on factory-style outlets to prepare items, which are then merely ‘assembled’ in-store before being packaged and offered for sale to consumers that day as PPDS foods; https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Natasha-LAPEROUSE-2018-0279.pdf
2 Asst. Coroner’s Report, point 3 https://www.judiciary.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Natasha-LAPEROUSE-2018-0279.pdf
3 NOTE: precautionary allergen labelling (e.g. ‘May contain’ statements) regarding unintentionally present allergens are out of scope of both the old and new rules.
4 Para 10.5 of the Explanatory Memorandum to the Regulations:  ‘Parallel regulations are going to be introduced in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and they have committed to their rules being in force in Autumn 2021.’

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