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  • Writer's pictureMeyrick Consulting

Natasha’s Law will be rushed through in tough labelling move.

With much sadness we read the story of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s early death. After eating a sandwich, something we all do without thought, she collapsed and died. The cause? Undisclosed sesame seeds in a baguette sold by Pret.

You may think this is unfortunate and an isolated, rare case but when the Coroner states the labelling was at fault something must change. We all rely on labelling and many of us check more often. With the massive range of foodstuffs available to us and our desire to try new things it makes sense.

The pressure is on for food labelling

Many people are now watching fat and sugar content, meat based products, gluten and dairy and rely almost exclusively on the accuracy of the labelling. Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary has pledged to work on a brand new law that will overhaul labelling. It is such a pity that the death of a 15 year old girl should be the catalyst for this development.

We can expect food labelling changes to be in place by the middle of next year

A new law will be rolled out right across the UK. This is not before time as foodstuffs have become increasingly processed and complex. A sandwich is no longer two slices of white bread a smidge of butter and a slice of ham. We are used to multi ingredient bread based snacks that may be smeared with all manner of sauces, seeds and spreads. With the increase in food allergies and dietary choices this law was inevitable especially as some loop holes need closing. For example and company that produces food on their own premises, like Pretfor example is not required to list every single ingredient. However, a factory must comply strictly to labelling laws. Therefore a sandwich chain might use a seemingly trivial ingredient and not label it. This is not through malice but as Michael Gove said that ‘people (should) become conscious in their conversations and their thoughts about allergies.”

Natasha’s parents, like many others said that Natasha had total faith in labels as it had underpinned her short life.’ Her mother said that labels should be standardised and should not lead to confusion.

The responsibility in food production is vast.

It is difficult to consider that a product you have created contributes directly to a death. More information is always welcome and we are sure that labelling will undergo further changes as consumers demand more information to help with their complex food choices.

All this underpins just how complicated the food and drink industry has become.

I suppose the question is where does the buck actually stop. The CEO of Pret released a statement but ultimately who is responsible? Ultimately the CEO has to take responsibility but if the heads of Health & Safety, Risk and Compliance had fulfilled their role more diligently perhaps this would not have happened. Who knows?

Every food manufacturer needs the right staff in place to make compliance easier

So I guess my angle here is that if you don’t have the right staff in place in these fields what is the impact on the business and from the CEO’s point of view if s/he is under resourced in these areas his or her job and future reputation could be on the line. After all, legislation and regulations are becoming increasingly tight alongside consumers’ developing needs. The Food Industry has morphed into a high tech, high volume niche that requires the highest standards from its employees right across the board. Working in the recruitment sector within the Food Industry we have seen the difficulties many companies face in recruiting the highest calibre staff without help. We are here to ensure you find the best fit for your specific needs.


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