banner-_0006_07.png

Natasha’s Law

Why is Natasha’s Law so important?

Untitled design.png

Watch this latest BBC News report… Natasha’s Law is already impacting the food industry.


 
 

Statement following Inquest Sky News - 28th Sept 2018

Statement following Inquest
Sky News - 28th Sept 2018

It was a crucial sentence in the Coroner’s verdict, but one that articulated perfectly the legal loophole which we had come to blame for the death of our 15-year-old daughter.

In fact, Natasha was more than reassured. She was elated that she had found her favourite ingredients - olives and artichokes - in what she considered an allergen-free sandwich at Pret a Manger store in Heathrow Airport. As has been well documented, once aboard the BA flight to Nice Natasha suffered an anaphylactic reaction to the hidden sesame seeds, baked into the dough of the baguette, and died later that day.


There was no specific allergen information on the baguette packaging… and Natasha was reassured by that.

In the two years after her death until the inquest, we read, and read again, the food regulations that allowed pre-packaged food to be sold without allergen labelling. We could understand that if you buy a sandwich from a local deli or cafe, where it is made in front of you, then allergen labelling is not required. But we just could not understand how a giant high street chain could wrap up tens of thousands of sandwiches in cellophane and printed cardboard rings yet have no legal duty to name the allergens.

London-by-Eurostar-Train-from-Paris.jpg

The Coroner, Dr Sean Cummings, agreed. As he made his directive to the Environment Secretary Michael Gove, he stated explicitly:


In my opinion there is a risk that future deaths could occur unless action is taken.

Within days, Pret’s Chief Executive Clive Schlee, pledged that the company would be in the vanguard of serious change, and that they would be listing all ingredients and allergens on their packaging by the end of 2019.

In January 2019, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was as good as his word since our first meeting and announced a consultation for a new law, ‘Natasha’s Law’ to prevent other needless deaths like our daughter’s.


 
 

In January 2019, Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was as good as his word since our first meeting and announced a consultation for a new law, ‘Natasha’s Law’ to prevent other needless deaths like our daughter’s.

Over the last few decades the contamination of food with bugs and bacteria like salmonella, listeria, E.coli and norovirus has been the industry’s ‘Public Enemy Number One.’

IMG_2890.JPG

Food allergies, the newer and less understood enemy, have been until now largely dismissed or ignored. This was clearly evident in Pret a Manger’s failure to respond to repeated warnings about the dangers of allergens - and sesame seeds in particularly - in the months before Natasha’s death.

But the growing numbers of people with allergies can no longer be ignored. There are now 1 in 4 people living with allergies in the UK. The rise in numbers of children being diagnosed with allergies is very worrying as are the ever increasing numbers of adults with no allergic history who are suddenly becoming anaphylactic to what they always had considered to be ‘safe foods’. This rise is in food allergies is on an unprecedented scale and science has no idea why.


Just over 37% of Brits agree it’s easy to identify which allergens a product is free from by its label

- Mintel

Screenshot 2019-04-26 at 23.50.14.png

Research from Mintel has found that almost half (48%) of Brits are unsure whether or not allergen labels are clear, and a further 15% have no confidence in them at all.

Emma Clifford, Associate Director of Food and Drink at Mintel, said:

“Potential changes to allergen labelling have received a lot of high profile media coverage recently, with speculation that the Government is planning to introduce new changes following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse.

Given the perceived lack of clarity and the dangerous health implications that ambiguous allergen labelling can have on consumers, there is a real need for companies to make the presence of allergens very obvious on labelling.

At the moment…there is no uniformity between the labelling used, which can fuel confusion among consumers, particularly given the huge amount of other product information on packaging. There is a strong demand for a UK-wide labelling system for allergens which would unify the way in which companies communicate this information on packaging.”

Eating habits and consumers approach to what they are eating is shifting at speed and consumers are demanding more clarity, honesty and transparency. Increasingly, individuals without food allergies also want to know what is in their food so they can make informed choices for health or life style choices. They demand to know what is in their food, not just the 14 “named” allergens, but all the ingredients as well.

We believe the time has come for full information and transparency about what is in our food. To do otherwise we believe would be simply a matter of delaying the inevitable. History shows that change for the better often only comes following tragedy. We are now hoping that in the wake of Natasha’s death, the food industry will step up to the mark and support our call for full ingredient and allergen labelling.


Shortfalls in the current law

Food retailers can opt to provide allergen information in written form and orally by providing readily discernible signage encouraging the customer to ask about allergen information; Staff could provide inaccurate information or not know where to obtain the allergen information; The onus is therefore on the allergy sufferer to identify whether a food they are purchasing may have a hidden allergen ingredient; We want to change this so that food retailers take responsibility for the labelling of products they are producing and / or selling.

Even though changes in the current law are being made for products pre-packaged for direct sale, they do not go far enough to protect all individuals with allergies. We consider that the Government should look at making whole scale changes to allergy policies across all food sectors: restaurants, work places, schools and areas of communal use such as planes or trains to ensure the safety of all allergy sufferers.


The Government Consultation Options were as follows:

1) Promote best practice (non- regulatory)

2) Ask the staff labels

3) Allergen labelling on packaging (14 allergens)

4) Full ingredient labelling (Natasha’s law)

The Consultation ended on the 29th March 2019 and as soon as we have news of it’s outcome, we will let you know.


Find out more…