In October 2021 new legislation has been introduced which requires clear labelling of ingredients on pre-packaged foods to protect allergy sufferers and give them confidence in the food they buy.
The new law, known as “Natasha’s Law” says that all food businesses will need to provide a full ingredient list and highlight any of the 14 major allergens it contains. In July 2016 Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died after eating a baguette which contained sesame seeds to which she was fatally allergic, she wasn’t aware that sesame seeds were in the sandwich because they hadn’t been highlighted on the packaging.
Previously, pre-packaged fresh food made on the premises did not need to be individually labelled with ingredient or allergen information. Following the efforts made by Natasha’s parents, this amendment was introduced so that those people with food allergies would be protected and give them greater confidence when consuming food.
Everybody reacts differently to a food allergy and some people can experience extremely troublesome and potentially life-threatening symptoms, so it’s critical that people are able to identify the ingredients and trigger foods they need to avoid.
It is estimated that almost 1 in 5 people in the UK suffer from an allergy and approximately 45% of the population suffer from a food intolerance therefore it is useful to understand the difference between a food allergy versus a food intolerance because they are two separate conditions.
Understanding whether you have a food intolerance, or an allergy may be easier than you think. The clearest way to tell is through reaction time. If you’re allergic then there will be a rapid response by the body’s immune system to a particular food, however the onset of intolerance symptoms can be a slower process.
If you suspect that you have a food allergy it is important that you first visit your GP and, as needed, get a referral to see an allergy specialist who will be able to formally diagnose and help you manage your condition.