Have you read our complete guide to Natasha’s Law? To get detailed information about the new regulations, its background and how it will impact businesses, you can download the guide here.
By now, most businesses should be aware of Natasha’s Law and, if you’ve read our recent blog you will know how you can prepare and adapt to the incoming legislation. But how do you know whether your business even needs to make changes? After all, not all food for sale is impacted by the new rules.
The simplest answer is this – if your business sells PPDS then it needs to take notice.
PPDS is foods prepackaged for direct sale on the premises. In other words, it is food that has been packaged on-site before being given to a customer – for free or in exchange for money. The packaging must either be partly or fully covering the food item, and the food should be unchangeable without removing or opening the packaging. The goods should also be in their packaging before they have been ordered. For instance, if the business is a deli where the food is ordered, made up and then placed in packaging, it is not subject to Natasha’s Law.
If a food is PPDS, it doesn’t matter whether it is stored in a self-service display cabinet, behind a counter or in the kitchen – it is still subject to Natasha’s Law.
If you’re still unsure how the new law will affect your specific sector of business, we’ve delved deeper for you.
Businesses impacted by Natasha’s Law
Cafes, retailers that offer food-to-go, coffee shops and canteens
The businesses in these categories are most likely to be selling PPDS foods, but not everything they stock will be included. Any food that is prepared or cooked fresh to be served on-site including sandwiches-to-order, hot soups and fresh cakes or pastries need not be compliant. PPDS foods include:
- Sandwiches and baked goods, packed on site before a consumer orders.
- Fast food packed before it is ordered, such as a burger under a hot lamp
- Products which are prepackaged on site ready for sale, such as pizzas, rotisserie chicken, salads and pasta pots.
- Burgers and sausages prepackaged by a butcher on the premises ready for sale to consumers.
- Samples of cookies given to consumers for free which were packed on site.
- Foods packaged and then sold elsewhere by the same operator at a market stall or mobile site.
- PPDS food provided in schools, care homes or hospitals and other similar settings will also require labelling.
As with restaurants, staff should be trained to supply accurate information to customers upon request.
Caterers, suppliers and producers
For suppliers to food operators, the focus will be on providing them with the most accurate information possible. Agree with buyers what brands they prefer to work with and agree substitution products for when primary choices aren’t available. This will be very important because a secondary product with different allergens could cause difficulties for the operator (if listed as allergen free on a menu, for example).
Of course, all packaged foods must be supplied with accurate and compliant labels.
Businesses less likely to be impacted by Natasha’s Law:
Restaurants and pubs/bars
Unless it’s a packet of nuts or crisps served from behind a bar, the food offered by most restaurants and pubs will not be regulated by Natasha’s Law. Saying that, since 2014 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, have been required by law to provide information on 14 allergens that appear in ingredients used in the dishes they serve. It is recommended that they provide allergen information either verbally or in writing.
Those rules will continue to be valid after October 2021.
Because takeaway food does not generally include PPDS, it is not directly affected by Natasha’s Law. Takeaways are classed as ‘distance selling’, this means allergen information should be made available at the point of purchase and, where relevant, at delivery.
Natasha’s Law may only impact food businesses selling PPDS, but that doesn’t mean that allergen risks should be ignored by non-affected businesses. Indeed, we believe proper allergen management should be a priority for all food businesses, no matter where the food is prepared or the format in which it is served. It is also good practice to regularly update and train staff on current allergen laws and make them aware of the ingredients in items on the menu (or at least how to find them when asked by a customer).
It is possible that after Natasha’s Law, further change will be implemented, extending the rules beyond PPDS. If that’s the case, it will pay to be prepared and ready.
After reading this blog, if you’re still unsure about whether you sell PPDS, the FSA has an easy to use identifier. You can also contact us directly if you’re interested in using our allergen management tools to help your business implement an end-to-end allergen management solution.