As food businesses across the UK get ready for the introduction of Natasha’s Law next month, a York-based chef is preparing to take part in Europe’s biggest catering exhibition, to be held in London in early November.
From October 1, new legislation – known as ‘Natasha’s Law’ – will come into force, affecting hundreds of thousands of businesses and traders who produce and package food for sale.
Natasha’s Law is named after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who died in 2016 following an allergic reaction to a shop-bought sandwich that had been prepared and packaged on site, but did not include sesame seeds on its ingredients label – a product to which she knew she had a severe allergy.
Under current rules, food prepared on the premises in which it is sold does not have to display full allergen information in writing. The new requirements apply to items called ‘prepacked for direct sale’ (PPDS), which is food that is packaged onsite at the same premises where a customer then selects or orders it. This means that once Natasha’s Law comes into effect, each PPDS food item will need a label containing a full ingredients list.
Chef Mark Morgan-Huntley has pioneered a food labelling system called Allergen Checker, to help such businesses comply with the new regulations and keep their customers safe, and he will be showcasing his innovative system at the prestigious Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo, which is expected to attract more than 15,000 visitors.
Europe’s leading event for takeaway and restaurant owners looking to boost their profits, the Restaurant & Takeaway Innovation Expo will return to London’s ExCeL convention centre on November 9 and 10, offering an insight into the innovations and technologies that are changing the face of the industry.
With free tickets for the show in 2021, guests will have exclusive access to the most impressive line-up the show has ever seen. With more than 1,000 exhibitors showcasing the products and services making waves in the sector, 500 seminars led by the industry’s leading minds, an array of panel debates and spectacular networking opportunities, it’s an unmissable opportunity for restaurant and takeaway professionals looking to accelerate the growth of their business.
Mark said: “The Expo will be packed wall-to-wall with innovations that are redefining the industry, and visitors to the show will find the greatest range of products and services available on the market.
“It’s exciting to be a part of the exhibition for the first time, and I’m looking forward to not only meeting potential new clients but also finding out more about other innovations available to restaurant and takeaway businesses.
“Visitors to my stand will have the chance to demo my Allergen Checker labelling system, and I’ll also be accompanied by nutritionist and food consultant Georgina Stewart.”
Mark’s brainchild, Allergen Checker is an online system that enables business owners to easily identify and display all allergens and ingredients in their food products. It allows users to create their own virtual store cupboard, input ingredients, identify allergens and print customised full ingredient labels to attach to items, so customers know exactly what’s in their food.
As the clock ticks down to October 1 when Natasha’s Law will come into force, businesses are under increasing pressure to ensure their food labelling is up to scratch.
Mark said: “For some people who have food allergies, eating the wrong thing can mean life or death. It is estimated that two million people are living with a food allergy in the UK, and I believe we should take more responsibility for ensuring our products don’t harm them.”
Recent research commissioned by GS1 UK (the not-for-profit organisation leading the ‘Feed Us the Facts’ campaign for extra transparency from the food industry) has found that four in 10 businesses across the food industry have never heard of Natasha’s Law, and eight in 10 food business owners admit they feel unprepared for the new food regulations.
Mark added: “Food labelling has never been as important as it is now, but unfortunately many businesses are still unprepared for the new regulations. Nobody wants to make anybody ill by not providing them with the right details, the new regulations have really tightened up the process to stop people slipping through the net. Turning a blind eye isn’t an option – the consequences for the customer, and your business, are too great.”
Non-compliance with the new rules could result in a business facing serious financial penalties, and potentially criminal prosecution. Mark has decades of kitchen and restaurant management experience and launched his unique food labelling service to help businesses of all shapes and sizes stay on the right side of the law in an easy-to-use, value-for-money way, while keeping allergy-prone customers safe.