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Business news, Consumer news

56 per cent of the businesses we checked were in breach of new allergen law

Posted on: 7 July 2023

100 sandwich shops, delis and bakeries tested across Devon, Somerset and Torbay.

Businesses, such as delis or bakeries who prepare then package food for sale, are being urged not to put their customers at risk and read trading standards guidance to help them stay on the right side of the law.

The warning comes after trading standards found that 56 out of 100 businesses in Devon, Somerset and Torbay were in breach of new Government rules which require full ingredient and allergen labelling on all food made on premises and pre-packed for direct sale.

And now Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service (HotSW TS) will carry out further sampling this year.

Natasha’s Law, named after the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse from anaphylaxis after she ate sesame in a baguette, was brought into force on 1 October 2021.

Officers from HotSW TS selected food business premises that had not previously been included in any allergen surveillance work or previously received advice surrounding allergen labelling.

They found that 22 of the 56 had sold products that either were not labelled or were incorrectly labelled – but when tested the sample did not contain the allergens the sample was submitted for.

However, 34 premises failed because they contained an undeclared allergen, often because the product had little or no labelling.

Of the samples that failed, because they contained an undeclared allergen, milk was the most prevalent in 44 per cent of the samples – cross contamination of work surfaces may have been a factor.

Gluten was the next most common allergen, and it was found in 17 per cent of samples.

Each business where the 56 failed samples were found are now being advised by trading standards officers.

Businesses unsure of the new law can find the guidance on the HotSW TS website or on the Food Standards Agency website.

Additionally, businesses can sign up to news and alerts from the Food Standards Agency.

HotSW TS also offers bespoke regulatory business support for all sectors of the economy.

Fakir Osman, Head of Heart of the South West Trading Standards Service, said: “If you are a business who sells food it is vital that you have a thorough understanding of the changes in legislation and how it impacts on your business.

“These changes to the law are recent and currently those businesses whose labelling has been found to be in breach of the new law will receive advice from Trading Standards Officers on how to ensure their products are compliant.

“I advise that businesses read our guidance as the welfare of your customers and your business could depend on it.

“To safeguard customers, we will conduct further sampling later this year.”