Since the start of the pandemic pubs and restaurants have been offering pre-packed and takeaway food in far greater quantities than ever before. Many will continue to do so long after Covid restrictions are lifted. This is a new and important income stream for many. However, it is important to recognise the different labelling restrictions that apply depending on where food is packaged and purchased.
In 2016 Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died following an allergic reaction to a Pret baguette. Natasha’s Law will introduce new allergen labelling requirements for pre-packed foods for direct sale (PPDS) from 1 October this year.
In order to decide whether the food you produce/sell is PPDS, non-packaged or distance sold you can use the useful FSA labelling tool here
PPDS is food that is packed at the same place it is offered for sale and is in this packaging before it is ordered or selected. The customer chooses the food in person at the premises. They may select it from a cabinet or from behind the counter.
The labelling requirements for PPDS are changing from 1 October 2021. Labels will need to show the name of the food and an ingredients list which emphasises any of the 14 allergens required to be declared by law.
Further guidance can be found here
Non Pre-Packed Food
Non pre-packed food includes sandwiches made to order or selected by the customer, food from a takeaway or served in a restaurant. In this case you need to provide a list of allergens but not ingredients. The allergen list can be communicated in a variety of means to suit your business. If allergens are not communicated in written form then you must clearly direct customers to where they can find this information e.g. by asking staff. Further guidance can be found here
Where the customer does not order food at your premises but orders online or be telephone in advance this is called distance selling. It is this regime that will apply to the majority of outlets who have been offering takeaway food during the pandemic.
Distance selling is already subject to allergen labelling requirements. Information must be given before the food is purchased – in writing, on a website, menu etc or orally, on the phone. Information must also be given when the food is delivered either in writing, stickers on the food or orally by the delivery driver. You are required to provide accurate allergen information but not a list of ingredients.
It is essential that staff understand food labelling requirements and how to handle requests for allergen information. As an employer you must ensure that staff are properly trained to deal with allergen requests and to ensure that allergen-free meals get to the right person.
The FSA provides free food allergy training for staff. Details can be found here
Food Standards Agency Guidance on allergen labelling can be found here
For further information contact Leo Skinner
The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the present time and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.