The Importance of Training Your Staff
To ensure you are achieving full compliance with Natasha’s Law legislation, you need to ensure that all levels of your business are knowledgeable and able to perform duties to comply with the law. This will be helpful for your business and the practices you follow when it comes to creating your allergen labels for your products, as well as for customers when they visit your premises.
Food allergies are a major issue for over 2 million people living in the UK, and for those who suffer from them, eating food they haven’t prepared themselves can be a minefield. Any allergen labelling prior to Natasha’s Law coming into effect was simply guidance and was not legally binding. That meant many food retailers – such as Pret A Manger, in the case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse – simply placed signs around their shops that advised customers to ask servers for allergen information.
Whilst most allergy sufferers would follow this advice, there are also things that can lull them into a false sense of security. In Natasha’s case, this was a lack of allergen warnings on the packaging of the baguette she purchased.
The introduction of Natasha’s Law brings reassurance to those who suffer from allergens by requiring all PPDS products to clearly state a list of all ingredients on the outer packaging, with any of the 14 allergens present to be contrasted from the regular font – either in bold, italics or in a different colour.
Allowing any allergy sufferers to have the autonomy to buy food whilst out and about is a big step in the right direction, as it’s likely they’ve experienced very little of this before – if at all.
And you can also go a step further and reassure them by appointing one or two of your members of staff to be ‘Allergy Champions’. Giving them the responsibility to oversee food allergy labelling means a greater likelihood of full compliance from your business, and your customers will know who to talk to if they need allergen information.
It also means your staff will continue to have a high level of training on allergen handling, and your customers will feel reassured by your recognition and commitment to the issues faced by allergen suffers every day.
Ensuring your staff are fully trained and up to date with any further developments will also reduce the risk of any instances of non-compliance with Natasha’s Law. Not only will you avoid any potential legal repercussions, but you will also avoid the heavy reputational damage that Pret A Manger suffered after the death of Natasha and the other allergy sufferers that experienced reactions after eating food sold by the food retailer.
And although Natasha’s Law only specifically covers foods that fall under the PPDS label, it is recommended that you provide allergen labelling for all of your products. Although there may be a risk of cross-contamination with products that aren’t packaged, you can easily list this and any other allergens that are present in the foods with plastic price signs. They are easy to display and are entirely food-safe, and your customers will feel reassured if they know exactly what is in their food.