Food allergies: Tougher labelling law to prevent deaths

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By BBC Health news

Stronger food labelling laws are being proposed to prevent further deaths of people with allergies.

All packaged food such as sandwiches and salads could be required to list the full ingredients.

It comes after the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, of Fulham, London, who suffered an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette in 2016.

Under current laws, the company did not have to list the ingredients of food packed and sold on the premises.

The inquest into Natasha’s death heard that the teenager was “reassured” by the lack of specific allergen information on the packaging when she bought the sandwich at Heathrow Airport.

But the baguette contained sesame seeds, which caused her to go into cardiac arrest on a flight in 2016.

Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, Natasha’s father, told Radio 4’s Today programme that it was vital action was taken “to prevent this kind of tragedy happening to other people”.

Four options are now being put forward for labelling food which is made, packaged and sold on the same premises:

  • Full ingredient list labelling
  • Allergen-only labelling
  • Ask-the-staff labels with supporting information available for consumers in writing
  • Promoting best practice around communicating allergen information to customers

Natasha’s mother Tanya said that “we’re really gunning for the top option which is full labelling – allergens and ingredients”, adding that the other “very soft” alternatives weren’t “options in our mind at all”.

She said the proposals could see the UK lead the way in helping people with allergies around the world.

“We’ve got an opportunity to spearhead something really amazing here,” she said.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who has had several meetings with Natasha’s parents, called the proposed new regulations “Natasha’s Law” and paid tribute to the “inspirational work” of her parents in advocating for it.

He said: “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.”

Allergy UK chief executive Carla Jones said that the food industry needed to do “more than just the bare minimum” when catering for the estimated two million people in the UK with food allergies.

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