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Lawyer for Ednan-Laperouse family calls for Natasha's Law over allergen labelling

A leading food safety lawyer representing the family of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse has joined calls for a Natasha's Law to force food companies to label foods containing allergens.

Posted on 30 September 2018

In her blog published today, Tina Patel from the product safety and consumer law department who are representing Natasha’s parents Nadim and Tanya, has said the current laws are leaving consumers exposed to potential safety issues which are a matter of life and death.

Natasha was 15 years old when she died. Her inquest last week heard how before boarding a British Airways flight to Nice she ate a Pret a Manger baguette in which Sesame seeds had been baked into the dough.

She had been reassured by the fact the packaging of the baguette contained no warning that there were allergens hidden within the food.

Sesame seeds are one of 14 Allergens specifically listed by the FSA (Food Standards Agency) as ingredients which should be indicated to consumers as being in the food they consume.

Natasha, who was allergic to sesame seeds had a severe reaction on the plane to Nice and died later that same day. Her parents are now calling for a change to the law following the conclusion of the inquest.

The Coroner indicated he would be writing to Michael Gove, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to consider whether large food businesses should benefit from Regulation 5 of the Food Information Regulations.

Tina Patel from the product safety and consumer law team at Leigh Day, said: “The facts around Natasha’s tragic death have ensured that the calls to change the law are now deafening.

“We live busy lives, often grabbing food on the go, those who have food allergies need full protection which the current food regulations, which allow a company such as Pret, which sells 218 million items a year and is worth £1.5bn to operate in the same way as a small single-store sandwich shop, do not provide.

“Large numbers of consumers are left exposed to potential safety issues which are a matter of life and death, this cannot be right. For this reason, we need Natasha’s law.”

The current Food Information Regulations came into force on 13 December 2014 and place an obligation on food retailers who make or prepare products on site to make allergen information readily discernible to consumers, either in writing or orally by asking a member of staff.

The product information should be readily available, clear, concise and not be misleading to the consumer. However, the current regulations do not make it mandatory to detail the allergen information on each product individually.

Ms Patel said: “Food retailers need to take on a greater responsibility in ensuring the food they retail clearly displays all allergen information. The only way to ensure food retailers do this is to make it mandatory - this means the current food regulations need to be amended to compel them to do so.

“The onus should not be on the consumer to hunt for allergy information. There then needs to be a greater deterrent for non-compliant retailers. 

She concluded: “Consumers have the right to feel safe and be protected regardless of the additional costs this may add to food retail businesses and it is time for the relevant government agencies to act to avoid future death.”