‘Natasha’s Law is not a fad!’: Parents of girl, 15, who died of allergic reaction to Pret sandwich say government plans for strict food labelling will ‘save lives’
- Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse’s daughter Natasha died on allergic reaction
- Yesterday met with Michael Gove to discuss plan to force firms to label allergens
- Welcomed proposals, which have met opposition from some in food industry
The parents of a 15-year-old girl who died from an allergic reaction after eating a Pret sandwich have welcomed the chain’s plans to list full ingredients and allergens on packets, saying ‘this is about saving lives’.
Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, whose daughter Natasha died on a British Airways flight from London to Nice in July 2016, met with Environment Secretary Michael Gove last night to discuss the proposals.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse told Good Morning Britain: ‘This will allow people with serious allergies to see the ingredients and not buy the products. That could save their life – it’s what this is about, saving lives.’
Nadim and Tanya Ednan-Laperouse meeting Environment Secretary Michael Gove a previous time on October 23
Natasha died in 2016 following an allergic reaction to sesame in a baguette from Pret A Manger. The ingredient was not listed on the label.
In the wake of her death her parents have been calling for a new so-called ‘Natasha’s Law’ to require all pre-packaged food clearly display allergen information.
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A Government consultation has since been launched into food labelling laws focusing on overhauling the labelling of pre-prepared foods which are made, packaged and sold in-store.
Speaking to GMB, Natasha’s father, Mr Ednan-Laperouse, said the family are asking for labels to list the 14 well-known allergens as well as the full ingredients.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died from an allergic reaction after eating a Pret sandwich. Seen in an undated family handout photo with her father
‘Because, particularly people today more than ever, have allergies, severe allergies to many things, not just those 14 particular things,’ he told the programme.
‘So it allows people who may have an allergy to something else to see the ingredients and not buy that product; therefore save their life.
‘This is life-saving issues, it is not just a convenience or a fashion, or a trend or a fad, it is about lives, and lives really, really matter.’
Under current rules, food prepared on the premises in which it is sold is not required to display allergen information on the package.
But under the proposed reforms, published on Friday by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, outlets selling pre-packaged food could be required to follow new labelling rules, including a full list of ingredients required by law.
The department said the consultation was designed to give the UK’s two million food allergy sufferers greater confidence in the safety of what they are eating.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse today backed the proposed new law, which they said was about ‘saving lives’
Appearing alongside her husband, Natasha’s mother, Tanya, said what happened was the ‘biggest fear a parent ever has for their child when they have allergies’.
How does law work now?
Under current legislation, there are different rules for pre-packaged foods depending on whether they are produced on the premises or elsewhere. Sandwiches and salads packaged off-site and transported to shops need to carry ingredients labels. But food packed by staff on the same premises as they are sold are not required to carry labels. Instead, it relies on customers asking staff for information about allergens and being told what is in them – a glaring loophole.
What is Mr Gove proposing?
The plans published today by Environment Secretary Michael Gove offer several options to address the issue. Shops could be required to list the full ingredients on the label or just allergens contained in the product. Both the family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Mr Gove are thought to back the more rigorous full-ingredients option.
What does the industry say?
Many food companies already publish allergen information on their food. Pret a Manger announced after the inquest into Natasha’s death that it would move to ‘full-ingredient labelling’, meaning that all ingredients, including allergens, appear on products. But not all firms follow the same standards. The family’s lawyers argue that ‘voluntary measures’ in the industry have not worked and so a change to the law is essential. But a move to listing full ingredients could face resistance from the industry, particularly from smaller outlets.
What happens next?
The consultation will last for nine weeks, during which allergen charities, food producers and the wider public can have their say. Once it has concluded and the responses have been considered, the law can be changed. Mr Gove has privately indicated he wants the new rules to come into force by the summer.
She said that, as parents, they understand how those who have children with allergies live their lives every day, how they feel and how frightening it is.
‘We couldn’t not do this,’ she said of the drive to push for food labelling reform.
‘This is in Natasha’s name and it is what she would want; because she lived with it, she knew how hard it was.’
Environment Secretary Michael Gove, who has discussed the consultation with Natasha’s parents, said he wanted to ensure food labels were clearer and rules for businesses more consistent.
He added: ‘Natasha’s parents have suffered a terrible loss, and I want to pay tribute to Nadim and Tanya 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.’
The proposed reforms cover labelling requirements for foods that are packed on the same premises from which they are sold – such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.
Currently, these foods are not required to carry labels, and information on allergens can be given in person by the food business if asked by the customer.
The department is urging businesses and allergy sufferers to have their say on four options being put forward to change the way allergy advice is provided on these foods.
Proposals include mandating full ingredient listing, allergen-only labelling, ‘ask the staff’ labels on all products, or promoting ‘best practice around communicating allergen information to consumers’.
The consultation on proposed amendments to the domestic Food Information Regulations 2014 will run for nine weeks.
As the law stands, food produced off site and brought into a shop has to carry a label showing the full ingredients. Pictured: Natasha, right, with her brother Alex in an undated image
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