What new food allergy rules mean for consumers and businesses

5th July 2019

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has announced that new rules - commonly referred to as “Natasha’s Law” (in memory of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse) - will require all food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on all pre-packaged food.

The legislation, introduced by Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, will apply to England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is due to come into force by summer 2021.

Jordan Brown, Legal Adviser at DAS Law, explains what the new legislation will mean for both the public and food businesses across the country…

For consumers, what difference will the new law make?

The law will mean greater transparency for consumers who have allergies and food hypersensitivities by mandating that all food sold to the public lists every ingredient no matter how or where that food is prepared.

What does the new law mean for food businesses?

It will require food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on all pre-packaged foods. It tightens the current rules by requiring foods that are pre-packed directly for sale to carry a full list of ingredients. There will be a two year implementation period in order to allow businesses to adapt to the new changes.

As a food business, do I have the obligation to list down all ingredients or just allergens?

Yes; food businesses will be required to list all ingredients, including any allergens.

Are there any businesses that are exempt from the law?

No exemptions have currently been suggested and it appears these new rules would apply to all businesses which sell or prepare food for consumption by the public. However, the draft legislation has not yet been released so we cannot be certain at this stage.

What would happen if I don’t comply?

The exact penalties are not yet known, but they are likely to be similar to existing penalties, which can be extremely serious. Currently, businesses can be made to pay an unlimited fine if found guilty of an offence.

Business owners can also be personally liable or even imprisoned for any failures which can be linked to their negligence under corporate manslaughter or health and safety legislation.

Will the law include meals pre-made on site such as salads, sandwiches, smoothies etc.?

Yes, all foods (including smoothies) that are prepared and packed on the same premises from which they are sold. For example, a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase will be required to list all its ingredients under the new law.

Disclaimer: This information is for general guidance regarding rights and responsibilities and is not formal legal advice as no lawyer-client relationship has been created. Note that the information was accurate at the time of publication but laws may have since changed.

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