In July 2016, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died from an allergic reaction to a sandwich purchased earlier at Heathrow Airport in the United Kingdom.
Because the food label on the sandwich failed to display ingredients and allergens clearly, Natasha had no idea she was eating anything dangerous. Lack of information—something easily remedied by the right food label—cost Natasha her life.
It’s these instances that a new piece of legislation in the UK—known as Natasha’s Law— hopes to eliminate. And while we might be years away from enacting a similar law in the US, foodservice operations can anticipate the change in policy and adopt aspects of Natasha’s Law in advance. Doing so could save customers’ lives and help your kitchen avoid the legal troubles that often accompany severe allergic reactions.
Understanding the basics: Natasha’s Law in a nutshell
To protect customers and kitchens from the fallout related to severe allergic reactions, Natasha’s Law in the UK requires foodservice operations to up their labeling game in three main ways.
Whether it’s a hospital cafeteria, school cafeteria, restaurant, or deli, if a foodservice operation sells prepackaged food for direct sale (aka PPDS food), the prepackaged food must include a label that:
- Shows the name of the food
- Lists the ingredients in volume order
- Highlights any of the 14 allergen types listed under Natasha’s Law in volume order using bold text
So, what food items qualify as PPDS? Essentially, items prepared and packaged at the exact location they’re sold qualify as PPDS. Any food packaged before a customer orders or selects it qualifies as PPDS.
Here are a few examples of PPDS:
- A burger under a hot lamp or any food you cannot consume without opening its packaging
- Grab-and-go rotisserie chickens, salads, burritos, sushi, pasta pots, and pizzas
- Sausages or burgers that a butcher prepackages on-premise before selling to customers at the same location
- Prepackaged food served in care homes, schools, hospitals, and other similar places
- Cookies or desserts that were packed on site, later removed from their packaging, and then offered to customers as samples
- Bakery items, sandwiches, and other products packaged on-site before being ordered by a customer
- Foods that were packaged and then sold at another location by the same vendor/business
What’s the main takeaway from Natasha’s Law? What should US foodservice operations do about it?
First and foremost, Natasha’s Law reinforces the fundamental principle that precise, accurate allergen and ingredient food labeling saves people’s lives. It’s that simple.
If customers know about the presence of allergens before they purchase a prepackaged item, they can spare themselves—and the kitchen that provided the food—from the negative fallout associated with a severe allergic reaction.
Again, it all boils down to food labeling. Every item needs clear, adequate labeling that’s standardized across operations, easy to control from the back end, and highly visible to the customer. Get your food labeling in order, and you can avoid the worst-case scenarios connected to food allergens.
Having adequate labeling for each food item requires a food labeling system that’s automated, highly customizable, easy to manage, and simple to use.
Although there are many labeling systems, the DateCodeGenie® automated labeling system from NCCO provides a solid option for designing, printing, and customizing almost any label needed in a foodservice operation.
Thanks to its intuitive label designer and ease of use, the DateCodeGenie simplifies the labeling process every step of the way—from designing labels online to printing them off in the kitchen.
Using the DateCodeGenie®, you and your team can:
- Print accurate, legible labels for prep ingredients, grab-and-go items, delivery orders, retail goods, etc
- Customize labels with ingredients, allergens, price, QR codes, customer names, nutritional information, and more
- Add in logos, contact information, promotional details, and branding motifs
- Streamline the onboarding process by giving staff access to training videos, recipes, ingredient information, and more
- Control device settings across multiple locations through a secure online portal
Whether your business needs a customized label for listing allergens in a bin of prep ingredients, a delivery order, or a grab-and-go item, the DateCodeGenie has you covered.
To learn more about the DateCodeGenie and how it can help your kitchen avoid the disasters associated with allergic reactions, visit ncco.com/date-code-genie. You can also view our online DateCodeGenie brochure for more information too.
Once there, you can learn about different DateCodeGenie models, see the solution in action, or request a product demo from one of our sales representatives.
No matter what legislation is on the way, now is the perfect time to take extra steps to protect your customers and your kitchen.