The parents of a teenager who died after an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette have welcomed the introduction of a new food safety law.
The rules, dubbed “Natasha’s Law,” require full ingredient and allergen labelling on all food made on-site and pre-packaged for direct sale.
The change is in response to Natasha Ednan-death Laperouse’s from anaphylaxis after eating sesame in a baguette.
Her parents stated that she would be “very proud” of the new rules.
Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, Natasha’s mother, told BBC Breakfast that she and husband Nadhim had been looking forward to this day for years. “Today, we really feel like we’ve accomplished something special,” she said.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse stated that they had started an online parliamentary petition calling for an allergy tsar as a “matter of life and death.”
“This is not what a great British nation should accept, that young people can die in this day and age because of the food they eat, when all it takes is more coordinated thinking to better protect them,” he said on BBC Breakfast.
The couple founded the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation and campaigned for the law change after Natasha was unaware that the baguette she ate contained sesame seeds due to a food labelling loophole.
The coroner at the 2018 inquest into her death concluded that Pret a Manger’s allergy labelling was inadequate.
Natasha, from Fulham, west London, ate an artichoke, olive, and tapenade baguette purchased from a Pret shop around 07:00 BST on 17 July 2016 in Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport, according to West London Coroner’s Court.
During a British Airways flight, she began to feel ill and suffered a cardiac arrest. Despite her father’s two EpiPen injections, she died later that day.
The baguette contained sesame, which Natasha was allergic to, baked into the dough, according to the inquest, but the ingredient was not listed on the packaging.
Despite six allergic reaction cases in the year before Natasha’s death, Pret did not label “artisan” baguettes as containing sesame seeds, according to the inquest.
The rules and regulations According to Natasha’s law, all food retailers will be required to display full ingredient and allergen labelling on all food items made on the premises and pre-packaged for direct sale, including sandwiches, cakes, and salads.
Previously, fresh food made on the premises that was not pre-packaged did not need to be individually labelled with allergen or ingredient information.
By Colletta Smith, consumer affairs correspondent
Cafes and restaurants have had to deal with a slew of new legislation as a result of the pandemic, as well as huge losses during periods of closure, and have had to make significant changes to their operations to accommodate changing customer habits over the last 18 months.
However, food labelling is a critical issue for an increasing number of allergy-suffering consumers. They’ve been requesting clearer labelling for years, and it’s understandable that they don’t want to wait any longer.
The regulator is attempting to be flexible with an already stressed industry, so we are unlikely to see fines immediately.
The Food Standards Agency, on the other hand, expects cafes and restaurants to at least try to sort out their labelling and comply with the law before the end of the year.
Allergy law ‘vital’
Natasha’s Law, according to Mr Ednan-Laperouse, will be critical in protecting the two to three million people in the UK who have food allergies from potentially fatal allergic reactions.
“It’s about saving lives,” he said, “and it’s a major milestone in our campaign to help people with food allergies in this country.”
This change in the law increases transparency about the foods people buy and eat, giving people with food allergies confidence when purchasing pre-packaged food for direct sale, such as sandwiches and salads. Everyone should be able to eat safely.”
According to Mrs. Ednan-Laperouse: “Natasha was always very careful to read food labels and hadn’t had a severe allergic reaction in over nine years until that terrible day in 2016.
“Nothing can bring Natasha back, and we have to accept that every day, but we know in our hearts that Natasha would be very proud that a new law in her honour will help to protect others.”
“If these changes reduce the number of hospital admissions caused by food allergies, which has tripled in the last 20 years, and prevent further tragic deaths like Natasha’s, that can only be a good thing,” Food Standards Agency chief executive Emily Miles said.
According to a Pret a Manger spokesman, the company has fully implemented ingredient labelling, which began in 2019.