Aimee is a digital marketing specialist who loves all things history. She enjoys writing content about topics she finds interesting.
Food allergies can be extremely serious, they vary from skin rashes to life threatening anaphylaxis. There is no cure for food allergies, so the only option is to avoid any food containing the allergen altogether. This is why it’s so important for companies to state any allergens on the ingredients list of the product they’re selling.
In this article, I go over why food allergen labelling is important, how you display allergens and what Natasha's Law is.
The 14 Food Allergens That Must Be Labelled
- Cereals containing gluten (e.g., barley, oats)
- Crustaceans (e.g., prawns, lobster, crab)
- Molluscs (e.g., mussels, oysters)
- Sulphur dioxide and sulphites
- Tree nuts (e.g., almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews)
How to Display Allergens on Labels
Now that you know the allergens you’ll have to look out for when packaging your product, I’m going to show you a few examples of how you can display these allergens so that any potential customers can clearly see each allergen.
Method 1: Bolding
The first way to display these allergens is to make sure they’re in bold on the ingredients list. for example: “Ingredients: Wheat flour, eggs, vinegar, cheese (6%), celery seeds, lemon juice . . .”
Method 2: Contains
Another way to display these allergens is to use a "contains" statement. For example, “Contains: wheat, eggs, cheese, celery”
Method 3: Cross-Contamination
If your product is made in a factory where there may be a risk of cross-contamination, you can include a "may contain" statement. For example,
"May contain traces of nuts" or "Made in a factory that also handles products containing nuts" This method is great for when your product is made in the same factory as another product that contains allergens. An estimated two million people suffer from a food allergy in the UK, so it's important not to make mistakes when packaging your products.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse was a 15-year-old teenage girl who had a severe allergy to sesame seeds, so she always checked the ingredients of everything she ate and was careful not to trigger this allergy. However, in 2016, Natasha visited the well-known franchise, Pret A Manger, where she picked up an artichoke and olive baguette. She was reassured by the ingredients list, as there was no mention of sesame seeds.
Natasha then boarded a flight to Nice, where she started having an allergic reaction. It was later found out that the bun of this baguette actually had hidden sesame seeds baked in. Natasha sadly died of anaphylaxis.
Natasha’s parents campaigned for tighter regulations on food allergen labelling. Currently, businesses are not required to label food that is made on the premises. However, because of the campaign that Natasha’s parents went spearheaded, this is set to change as of October 2021. As the implementation of this law draws near, the government suggests that if you have a business that is going to be affected, you should start preparing immediately.
What if I Don’t Label My Food Allergens Correctly?
Failing to adhere to food-labelling requirements can have serious repercussions, as evidenced by Natasha’s case. A young girl lost her life, and this could have been prevented if Pret A Manger had labelled their food correctly. Her parents were devastated, and the nation watched in sorrow as they campaigned valiantly to pass Natasha’s Law.
A business loses the trust of its customers when it can’t label its own products correctly. According to industry watchers, Pret went from being the “fresh-faced darling of high street convenience food” to “the food industry’s bogeyman.” Many people commented that they wouldn’t buy from Pret again.
You also receive a hefty fine if you fail to adhere to food-labelling requirements. This fine depends on the size of your business and the offence. The cap was previously set at £20,000 but is now unlimited.
It’s important to keep the trust of your customers and make sure your food is labelled correctly. I hope this article helped explain why this is important and how you can do it.
Resources and Further Reading
- Allergen Labelling for Food Manufacturers
- Food Allergen Explained UK
- Food Allergen Labelling
- Pret A Manger (The Guardian)
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.