Food firms could be forced to label all ingredients after teenager’s allergy death | UK News
The food industry could be forced to label every ingredient under a proposed overhaul of allergen labelling laws.
The consultation launched today comes after teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died following an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette.
The proposed reforms cover labelling for food packed at the same premises from which it is sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.
Currently, this food is not required to carry labels, and allergen information can be requested by the consumer.
But proposals unveiled by environment secretary Michael Gove would see all pre-packaged food labelled to help the UK’s two million food allergy sufferers decide whether they can safely eat it.
Mr Gove told Sky News: “The consultation wants to hear from people on a critically important subject.
“How can we ensure that no one else has to go through what Natasha’s parents went through and see their child suffer in that way?
“My own view is that the maximum information should be shared with consumers – not just allergens.
“The more that people know, the better their choices.”
He added: “I think we’re all as individuals taking more responsibility of what we eat but for someone living with an allergy it’s critical you have the right information about allergens and ingredients.
“It’s only by having that information, you can make the right choices.
“It depends on government getting the rules right, the industry responding and individuals making the right choice.”
Food businesses and allergy sufferers are invited to have their say on four options: mandating full ingredient list labelling, mandating allergen-only labelling on food packaging, mandating ‘ask the staff’ labels on all products and promoting best practice around communicating allergen information to consumers.
Since Natasha’s death in July 2017 her parents have been campaigning for a change in the law.
Speaking last year her parents Nadim and Tanya said: “There can be no further excuses from Pret and similar establishments for not acting immediately on allergen labelling and, specifically in Pret’s case, implementing a proper monitoring system for incidents.
“Together these actions can help prevent further tragic losses of life like Natasha’s.”
Lauren Hilton from Bolton has had a severe nut allergy since the age of seven, the worst case her doctor has ever witnessed.
Her mother Gail welcomed the proposals, but still fears for her 14-year-old daughter’s safety:
“As a mother it’s very very scary.
“I know that as Lauren’s growing up…she may visit that takeaway at night time on the way home from going out in town with her friends and you think to yourself: Is she going to be checking at times like that? Will she want to stand up and be embarrassed in front of her friends, asking does it have nuts in?”
Carla Jones, chief executive of Allergy UK, told Sky News: “The food allergy community is already very vigilant, and takes a lot of responsibility for looking at food labelling, but we do feel that for the food industry, there’s more that could be done.
“At end of the day, even if you’re small independent shop or restaurant, there is some argument that states that it would be more difficult to introduce these changes, Allergy UK thinks it should be all food establishments.
“If you are producing food on your own premises, there is no reason you can’t put a label on it. If I’m producing that food, I know exactly what’s going in.”