Trading Standards Wales is supporting an initiative by Greater Gwent Food Group to reduce deaths from allergic reactions.
The Greater Gwent Food Group, a partnership between Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport City and Torfaen councils, released a new multilingual allergen resource for food businesses in Wales, England and Northern Ireland to help protect the estimated two million plus people living with a diagnosed food allergy in the UK.
The materials are being released just before Natasha’s Law comes into force. The new law due to be enacted in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland on 1 October, means significant changes for labelling of food pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS). PPDS is food which is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to consumers and is in this packaging before it is ordered or selected. It can include food that consumers select themselves (e.g. from a display unit), as well as products kept behind a counter and some food sold at mobile or temporary outlets.
This law is named after the late Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction at just 15 years of age after eating an ‘artichoke, olive and tapenade’ baguette purchased at Pret a Manger. Natasha had a sesame allergy and wasn’t aware that sesame seeds had been pre-baked into the bread.
Any food business selling PPDS food will be required to label it with the name of the food and full list of ingredients with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list.
The resources are freely available and hosted on the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) website and contains a variety of materials on the topic of food allergens. Included is an allergen awareness presentation video; a handout covering the presentation key messages; dubbed and subtitled versions of ‘Day in the Life of Chloe’ and ‘Megan’s Story’ (originally produced by Lancashire County Council) and our ‘Tell Us If You Have An Allergy’ poster, all of which have been produced in English, Welsh, Bengali, Cantonese, Kurdish, Mandarin, Punjabi, Turkish and Urdu.
The assets are accompanied by a core presentation that covers a wide range of food allergen topics. This includes allergen management, food information and labelling rules, food hypersensitivities and reactions people can have to them as well as what it is like to live with a food allergy and the devastating consequences when things go wrong.
Dilys Harris, Senior Trading Standards Officer, Caerphilly County Borough Council, on behalf of the Greater Gwent Food Group said “We are proud to launch this valuable resource on food allergens which has been produced with the support of the Food Standards Agency and Trading Standards Wales. It will be used by local authorities across Wales, England and Northern Ireland and is suitable for food businesses, food law enforcement officers and educational establishments.
“We aim to promote the importance of clear, accurate food information that consumers can trust and the supply of safe food’.
Crucially, it will also assist in updating Food Business Operators concerning changes brought about as a result of ‘Natasha’s Law’, which comes into force on 1 October 2021.”
Nathan Barnhouse, Director of the Food Standards Agency in Wales said:
“Food hypersensitivity is a priority for the FSA and our ambition is for the UK to become the best place in the world for people living with food hypersensitivities.
The upcoming changes to labelling requirements for prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) food are a huge milestone for people living with food allergies and will help protect them by providing potentially life-saving allergen information on the packaging.
We welcome the Greater Gwent Food Group’s new multilingual allergen resources and are delighted to have supported their development. These resources will help businesses as they prepare for the upcoming changes to labelling and will build on our existing PPDS resources for businesses, which can be found on the PPDS hub on food.gov.uk.”
Helen Picton Chair of Trading Standards Wales said: “Effective allergen management and providing clear, accurate ingredient information are crucially important in ensuring the safety of consumers. The food industry in Wales is wonderfully diverse and we enjoy food from many cultures; Trading Standards Wales is proud to promote this resource to help all food business operators comply with the new labelling requirements around allergens.”
Natasha Allergy Research Foundation said: we are delighted to see the Greater Gwent Food Group launch a multi-lingual resource to assist food businesses in preparing for compliance with Natasha’s Law coming into effect in less than a month. It captures the essence of the work our charity has done by reinforcing a key message of ‘Never Guess, Be Safe Not Sorry, Be Allergy Aware’ and we are confident this tool will be instrumental in creating awareness for staff within local business by creating an understanding of the importance of food allergy safety in saving lives.”
Megan’s mum, said: “This resource translated into multiple languages is a vital part of ensuring food businesses with language barriers understand how to manage allergies and protect their customers.
“In Megan’s case, the owner claimed he did not speak English. This is no defence for negligence within a food business.
“Megan did everything right as a customer and declared her food allergies.
“Food businesses must be pro-active and understand how to prepare food safely and how to manage allergies, regardless of their first language.
“The Greater Gwent Food Group, supported by the Food Standards Agency and Trading Standards Wales have spearheaded this project and it’s so heart-warming to know people care and are still helping us to bring awareness and change to avoid another family going through this pain”.
The Chair of the CTSI Race & Equalities Working Group, Tendy Lindsay, who is also a respected member of the former Food Standards Agency’s Food Fraud Advisory Unit, said: “This allergen awareness campaign by the Greater Gwent Food Group is an excellent resource for consumer protection professionals, businesses and consumers. What is great to see is that the resource has incorporated nine different languages into its materials, ensuring that the information will be understood throughout the UK’s diverse communities. Future awareness campaigns should use it as an example for engaging with the many different communities we serve.”