Food Standards

Food Labelling Standards changes

On October 1st 2021 the food labelling standards are changing. Businesses that sell food need to act now in order to remain compliant with these changes. These new changes affect food that is prepacked for direct sale (PPDS).

It is important to note that the new allergen food standards affect foods sold in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. It is designed to help protect customers and consumers of food by providing potentially life saving allergen information on packaging.

Anyone who produces prepacked for direct sale food will be required to label it with the name of the food and a full list of ingredients with allergenic ingredients emphasised on the list. Businesses are advised to act now and check if foods they produce fall under the changes of PPDS food, and therefore prepare to change their labelling on these products.

Why are the new Regulations coming into effect?

This new law is known as Natasha’s Law, named after 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who tragically lost her life from anaphylactic shock by unknowingly eating a baguette containing the allergen sesame. By law, as the baguette was made on the premises it did not need to have any allergen information listed on the packaging.

Since Natasha’s death in 2016, campaigners have worked to make increased labelling and information sharing to consumers applicable to all PPDS foods.

What is Prepacked for Direct Sale food (PPDS)?

In order to fully meet the new regulations businesses, need to understand what Prepacked for Direct Sale food is. It will also be helpful for consumers to understand what the changes are so that they can make use of the regulations.

Prepacked for Direct Sale food is food which is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to customers and is in this packaging before it is ordered or selected.

It can be food which the customer chooses themselves for example from a display unit, as well as food which is kept behind a counter. It also affects some food sold at mobile or temporary food outlets.

Food that is provided in schools, care homes and/or hospitals will also require labelling

Examples of Prepacked for Direct Sale Food

Food that comes under the new regulations includes but is not limited to:

Sandwiches and bakery products
These will be packed on site before a consumer selects or orders them.

Fast food
This will include food which is packed before it is ordered for example a burger under a hot lamp where the food cannot be altered without opening the packaging.

Pre-packaged on site
This type of food includes food which is ready for sale, such as pizzas, rotisserie chicken, salads, and pasta pots, which is prepared and packaged on the store site.

Burgers and sausages
For example, a butcher prepares on the premises and then pre-packages them ready for sale to consumers

Any samples given to consumers for free which were packed on site, an example might be cookies that are pre-packaged and offered for free.

Same operator food
Where an operator of a food business packages and then sells their wares at a different location for example a market stall or mobile site, the food must have been prepared and sold by the same operator.

Food that doesn’t come under the new PPDS regulations

Any food which is packed by one business and sold to another business will not require any new labelling. This is classed as prepacked food, and already has regulations of full labelling which should include the products full name, list of ingredients and allergenic ingredients emphasised on it. This is a legal requirement for pre-packaged food under The Food Information Regulations 2014.

Other food that does not come under the new regulations include food that is not packaged or food that is packaged after the consumer has ordered it. Although this sort of food is classified as non-prepacked, it is important that allergen information is still available and provided. This could be done in several ways, including oral information.

Do the new regulations affect Distance selling?

The new regulations do affect food that is sold on a distance selling basis. This is food that can be sold via the telephone, an app or website. Food that is sold like this must have had its mandatory allergen information made available to the consumer before they purchased it and at the point of delivery by the business selling it.

At the point of ordering, mandatory allergen information must be available, this maybe by the means of:

  • Writing:
    • On a menu,
    • Website, or
    • Catalogues,
  • Oral information.

At the point of delivery, allergen information must also be available to the consumer this can be done by:

  • Writing:
    • By the use of allergen awareness stickers,
    • A copy of the menu
  • Oral information.

It is important that take away food is clearly labelled in order for the consumer to know which foods are safe for someone with a food allergy.

What information does a label need?

The label needs to show the name of the food, and the ingredients list with any of the fourteen allergens required by law to be declared emphasised on the list. This needs to be in line with the legal requirements that apply to the naming of food and listing ingredients. All existing legal requirements of food labelling must continue to be met whilst implementing the new regulations.

What are the fourteen allergens required by law to be declared?

The fourteen allergens stated in law that must be declared on packaging are:

  • Celery,
  • Cereals containing gluten, such as:
    • Barley, and
    • Oats,
  • Crustaceans, such as
    • Crabs
    • Lobsters, and
    • Prawns
  • Eggs,
  • Fish,
  • Lupin,
  • Milk,
  • Molluscs, such as
    • Mussels, and
    • Oysters,
  • Mustard,
  • Peanuts,
  • Sesame,
  • Soybeans,
  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites (At a concentration of more than ten parts per million).
  • Tree nuts such as
    • Almonds,
    • Brazil nuts,
    • Cashews,
    • Hazelnuts,
    • Macadamia Nuts,
    • Pecans,
    • Pistachios, and
    • Walnuts.

Complying with the new law

Any business that sells or supplies food that is classed as PPDS food needs to act now in order to be ready for the new legislation that comes into effect on October the 1st 2021. The first thing that businesses need to do is to check if they sell PPDS classified food and if so ensure that they are ready to label these foods in line with the new law.

We have provided a handy flow chart below for you to check if you need to do anything to become compliant with the new law:

A flowchart to assist in deciding if PPDS affects businesses
Use our handy, downloadable flowchart to see if you are affected by the new PPDS Regulations.