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‘Natasha’s Law’, named in honour of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse

Insurance cover should be on the menu following allergen law tightening

Jul 2019


‘Natasha’s Law’, named in honour of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically died on board a flight to Nice in July 2016 from an allergic reaction to sesame seeds not noted on the packaging, is to be introduced within two years, to reinforce and extend food safety legislation. As a result, insurance cover needs to be on the menu for food-sector businesses, more than ever before.

By what is anticipated to be the summer of 2021, food retailers will have to put full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged food, to enable the public to know that their food choices are safe ones.  Natasha’s parents have called the new law a “fitting legacy for her life”.  This action has already been taken by Pret a Manger, whose artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette caused Natasha’s death. Full ingredients labelling is now in operation at over 60 Pret shops, with a nationwide roll-out underway.

Other measures being systematically introduced by the retailer, to minimise the risk of allergic reactions, include reformulating recipes to remove allergens, investing in training for staff and installing tablets in stores, so allergy sufferers can easily check what foods are safe. It has also committed to releasing a quarterly allergen report.

But, two years is a long time in food retailing.  As DEFRA – the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs - has said: “Businesses do not need to wait for the law to change to do the right thing.” Although allergen labelling is not currently required by UK law when restaurants, shops or fast-food outlets cook food on site, it makes sense to start providing this information now.

If a business does not do “the right thing”, they could face enormous fines, legal costs and damage to their reputation, which could bring the business to its knees, or result in the imprisonment of those in charge of decision making.

And, other allergen laws already in place in the UK must not be broken.  Requirements can be found here and include the legal responsibility of declaring whether any of 14 named allergens are in food being served.

Having insurance protection in place, to safeguard against claims, either true or manufactured, could be regarded as being imperative.  Public liability insurance can protect food outlets against injury or damage claims made by customers and suppliers and is a core business insurance cover for eateries that could incur costly compensation claims. This cover can also protect against any food poisoning claims.

In the UK 4,500 people are admitted to hospital every year as a result of food allergies with 10 food allergy related deaths per year. 8 per cent of children are affected by food allergies or intolerances and so are two per cent of adults.

With the spotlight on allergens more than ever before, all businesses must take appropriate action to stay abreast of the law and train employees, regardless of whether they are a one-man vendor or a national chain. Ensure your business doesn’t get caught out, ask an insurance broker to help you with your risks and responsibilities and get necessary insurance cover in place. To start this process, please use our ‘Find a Local Broker’ tool.

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