The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has proposed to overhaul allergen labelling laws and give consumers clearer information on the food they buy.
Under the new reforms, subject to consultation, food outlets selling food packaged and sold on the same premises could be forced to include full ingredient listings, allergen-only labelling or ‘ask-the-staff’ labels.
Under current regulations, food prepared on the premise in which it is sold is not required to display allergen information on the package.
The announcement follows the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered an allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger sandwich in September 2018.
Environment secretary Michael Gove said: “Natasha’s parents have suffered a terrible loss, and I want to pay tribute to Nadim and Tanya [Ednan-Laperouse] for their inspirational work to deliver Natasha’s law. We want to ensure that labels are clearer and that the rules for businesses are more consistent – so that allergy sufferers in this country can have confidence in the safety of their food.
“Many businesses are already bringing changes on board independently, and in the meantime they should continue doing all they can to give consumers the information they need.”
Vince Maloney, of Maloney’s Budgens of Virginia Water, Surrey, would welcome the new reforms, and believes the benefits outweigh the increased expenditure.
“It’s a difficult with what happened with that little girl, which is why I would welcome these new reforms,” he said.
“Yes, it’ll cost a bit of money, but what is more important – a bit more cost for some labelling or somebodies life? It is something retailers have to bear.
“We had up disclaimers already when our food-to-go was selling bread, baked products and so on. I think a lot of retailers do try and provide it already. People don’t want to have to ask for a folder. They want the information there and then.”