Food businesses will be legally required to provide a full list of ingredients, which highlights the presence of common allergens, on foods that are pre-packaged for direct sale on their premises from 1 October.
The legislation has been introduced to protect allergy sufferers and improve their confidence in the food they buy.
The move follows the death of the Fulham teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016. The 15-year-old suffered a severe allergic reaction to an undeclared ingredient found in a pre-packed baguette. The law, known as Natasha’s law, will also apply to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland where it is estimated that one in five people suffer from an allergy.
A Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (DEFA) spokesperson, said:
'We encourage all food businesses to work with us to get this right as ultimately it can save lives.'
'Natasha’s law will also protect those who suffer with allergies and give people greater confidence.'
Allergens are substances that can cause an allergic reaction when the body sees them as a dangerous or foreign substance and the immune system responds defensively. These reactions can range from minor rashes to anaphylactic shock, which can be fatal.
14 major allergens, such as milk, eggs, fish and nuts, must be clearly identified under the new rules on pre-packed items such as sandwiches and salads – as part of a full list of ingredients.
This includes food that consumers select themselves, for example from a display unit, as well as products kept behind a counter, or some food sold at mobile or temporary outlets.
A dedicated DEFA Food Allergens webpage has been published to provide guidance and practical help for businesses including;
- Fast food and takeaway restaurants
- Mobile sellers and street food vendors
- Restaurants, cafes and pubs
- Schools, Colleges and Nurseries
- Event Caterers
Food businesses can contact DEFA by telephone on +44 1624 685894 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org if they have any questions or require advice on what measures they need to take.