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Natasha’s Law and Beyond: How to Make Your Restaurant More Allergy Friendly

Natasha’s Law and Beyond: How to Make Your Restaurant More Allergy Friendly

Is your food business ready for Natasha’s Law?

This October, new legislation will come into force in the UK, requiring clear labelling of all ingredients and allergens on pre-packed foods sold at food outlets.

Natasha’s Law reflects a wider trend towards food allergy awareness in the UK. The past two decades have seen a significant increase in food allergies in the West and today 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children live with a food allergy.

Concerns around this issue are widespread, even beyond allergy sufferers. Research showed that 88% of the British public was in full support of the introduction of Natasha’s Law.

What does all this mean? Operators, allergen and ingredient transparency should be high on your agenda right now. All businesses will need to meet the requirements of law, but those who go above and beyond could see boosted brand affinity and customer satisfaction.

In this blog, we’ll answer all your questions about Natasha’s law, and share our top tips for getting your hospitality business on top of its allergy awareness game in time for October.

What is Natasha’s Law?

Natasha’s Law, also known as the UK Food Information Amendment, is new legislation on the labelling of prepackaged food in the United Kingdom.

Under Natasha’s Law all prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) food will be legally required to have clear ingredients and allergen labelling. The new labels must contain:

  • The name of the food
  • A full list of ingredients
  • Emphasised allergenic ingredients

Natasha’s law was passed following the tragic death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016. The law aims to protect allergy sufferers from hidden allergens and give them more confidence when buying food out.

With the grab-and-go market now bigger than ever, it is essential that all hospitality operators understand the details of this legislation.

When does Natasha’s Law come into effect?

Natasha’s Law will come into effect on the 1st October 2021. The legislation was actually passed in September 2019 but the government wanted to give business owners plenty of time to prepare for the change.

There are now less than four months left to prepare for it so if you’re not ready, you better hurry!

Will it affect my business?

If you sell any food that qualifies as Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS) then your business will be affected by Natasha’s Law. This means any food which is packaged at the same site as it is offered or sold to consumers.

Common examples of PPDS food include:

  • Bakery products such as sandwiches which are packed on site
  • Fast food packed before it is ordered, such as a burger under a hot lamp
  • Grab-and-go meals packaged on site, such as salads and pasta pots

Natasha’s Law does not apply to any food that is packaged after being ordered – nutritional information must still be available but is not required to be on a label. Food that is packaged offsite is already required to have full allergen and ingredients labelling.

label sandwich

How to prepare your business for Natasha’s Law

If your food business does sell PPDS then there are a few simple steps you need to follow to make sure you’re ready for October 2021.

1. Source appropriate labels for your PPDS food

The number one essential for compliance with Natasha’s Law is thorough, accurate food labelling. You will need to find a provider who can provide you with labels for all of your PPDS food which meet the Food Standard Agency (FSA)’s requirements.

If you are still selling any PPDS food which is not labelled with full ingredients and allergen information by October then you could face a fine of up to £5000.

2. Train your staff on allergies and intolerance

In addition to accurate food labels, staff allergen training is another essential for compliance with Natasha’s Law. Operators must be able to deliver safe food and avoid cross-contamination of allergens, which means ensuring staff have access to accurate allergen information and a good understanding of the risks associated with this.

The FSA provides free online food allergy and intolerance training which you can access here.

3. Make your business allergy friendly

Even beyond Natasha’s law, operators should be mindful of the fact that allergies and intolerances are on the rise. According to research by MarketsandMarkets, the free-from food market is set to reach $6.47bn by 2023 – this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the foodservice industry.

The risks associated with wrongly serving allergenic foods are high, but for those providing convenient and compassionate experiences for customers affected by allergies, the potential rewards are significant, including an increase in return custom and brand evangelism.

VMOS allergens 3

Beyond Natasha’s Law: how technology can make your restaurant more allergy friendly

Above and beyond the requirements of the law, there are many ways to make your business more accessible to allergy sufferers. Technology should help with this – a flexible digital ordering system can help you provide nutritional info without too much additional work for your staff.

Here are five key allergy and nutritional considerations for your food business, and how Vita Mojo’s Operating System helps you to put each of them into practice.

1. Clearly communicate allergens on your digital ordering channels.

How can technology help? Vita Mojo OS allows you to…

  • Create custom allergen tags for your digital menus
  • Easily add allergen tags to meals across all of your digital ordering channels.
  • For customised meals, automatically update allergen tags with any modifications or additions made by the customer.

2. Remind customers to let staff know if they have a serious allergy.

How can technology help? Vita Mojo OS allows you to…

  • Have a pop-up reminding customers with serious food allergies to get in touch or inform a member of staff.
  • Ensure that, with the help of technology, you never forget to ask that all important question, “Do you have any allergies?”

3. Help kitchen staff to accurately read tickets and catch any allergens.

How can technology help? Vita Mojo OS allows you to… 

  • Standardise kitchen tickets from all of your ordering channels
  • Receive all orders, including those from delivery aggregators, into a single KDS.
  • Reduce staff confusion and risk of errors with a streamlined Back of House system

VMOS allergens 4

4. Keep allergen info up to date across all of your menus.

How can technology help? Vita Mojo OS allows you to…

  • Easily update allergen info for all your digital ordering menus in one place
  • Save staff time with updates made just once and pushed across your channels
  • Minimise human errors with a simpler menu management system

5. Maximise menu transparency for all dietary requirements.

How can technology help? Vita Mojo OS allows you to…

  • Provide clear dietary tags, detailed nutritional information, calorie counts and more across your digital channels
  • Work with a collaborative tech partner who is always developing new features to keep operators ahead of the curve

Interested in how we partner with top hospitality operators? Check out our case studies!