If you work in a small food business that makes food to sell or serve to customers, then it’s essential that you have an understanding of how to label allergens correctly. Whether you make sandwiches in a café, sell cakes at a stall or serve burgers from a food truck, you have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure that the foods you sell are labelled accurately. Our quick guide to food allergen labels should help you to get started, what’s more, you can download our free food allergy stickers to use in your small food business.
Allergen Labelling and the Law
If you create and package food products for sale (such as packaged sandwiches, pies, ready-meals and cakes), then the law requires you to label your food products with its ingredients, including the presence of allergens.
The European Provision of Food Information to Consumers Regulation 2011 also means that, as of December 2014, allergen information must be provided for all food sold, whether packaged or loose (such as loose bakery items, deli foods and cooked-to-order meals).
For pre-packaged foods (such as packaged sandwiches, boxed salads or individually wrapped pastries) that you receive from a supplier, allergens must be highlighted in the ingredients list, such as by listing them in capital letters, a different colour, or in bold font on the food’s packaging. Packaged foods must also label any derivatives of allergenic foods, such as stating that albumen is egg. If a customer asks about the allergen content of a pre-packaged food then you can inform them by referring to the product’s packaging.
Currently, for foods sold loose (such as at a café, deli, market or food truck) that you package on the premises for sale, accurate allergen information must either be displayed on a board by the point of sale, or told to customers verbally on request. All food businesses, no matter their size, are responsible for providing clear and accurate allergen information for any foods that they sell or serve to customers, and there must be at least one staff member available on each shift who knows the accurate allergen information for each food product.
However, Natasha’s Law will soon be coming into force and changing these requirements.
What is Natasha’s Law?
Natasha’s Law is a new food labelling legislation that is due to come into force in England in 2021, with similar arrangements expected to follow in other nations for a UK-wide approach. It was created following the death of 15 year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who had a fatal allergic reaction to a Pret a Manager baguette that contained sesame seeds. Once Natasha’s Law is enforced, it will require businesses to label food that is pre-packed directly for sale and made on the premises with a full list of ingredients, including allergens.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is currently developing guidance on the list of foods to which Natasha’s Law will apply. This is due to be published on the 1st October 2019, giving food businesses a two-year transition period to prepare for these new requirements.
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