A safefood video series aims to help Northern Ireland food businesses adapt to new labelling requirements

Safefood has produced a video series to assist Northern Ireland food businesses meet their obligation to implement new labelling requirements for Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS) foods following the coming into force of Natasha’s Law in October 2021. The videos were made in partnership with the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland and Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. We spoke to Connie McKinstry, Environmental Health Officer, about how these videos can help food businesses comply with the new regulations.

From October 2021, the requirements for PPDS food labelling changed in Northern Ireland, England and Wales. The changes were introduced following the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse in 2016. Natasha suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction to hidden sesame seeds, baked into the dough of a baguette. The Law did not require allergen labelling at the time. Natasha’s Law now requires any business that produces PPDS food to label it with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list. 

Understanding PPDS
“Prepacked for direct sale or PPDS food is a food that is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to consumers and is in its packaging before it is ordered or selected, such as a packaged sandwich or salad made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase,” explains Connie.

Connie explained how PPDS foods differ from food that isn’t PPDS. “Any food that is not in packaging or is packaged after being ordered by the consumer, e.g., a sandwich made to order, are non-prepacked and do not require a label with name, ingredients and allergens emphasised. However, allergen information must still be provided but this can be done through other means, including orally.”

Another example of food that is not PPDS is food packed by one business and supplied to another business. This is prepacked food and already must have full labelling, including the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within it.

Regulation requirement
The introduction of this law will make it easier for allergy sufferers to make clear, safe choices when buying food by providing potentially life-saving allergen information.

Practical guidance
The safefood series of videos aims to give practical advice to food businesses who may have difficulties implementing the new PPDS rules. “The videos will provide a background to Natasha’s Law, and the new allergen labelling changes that will affect PPDS food products. They will also provide information and the practical steps that businesses can take to create labels that are compliant with the new labelling changes.”

There are three videos in the series: the first explains what foods classify as PPDS and the labelling changes that need to be made; the second video looks at how businesses can gather the information they need to create the correct food label, and the third video offers practical information on the design and print of a PPDS food label. “For many smaller businesses, this may be their first experience dealing with food labelling legislation,” Connie says. “Previously, businesses may not have been subject to it, they may just have provided allergen information verbally. Now they are subject to this PPDS requirement and it’s a whole new area for them.”

“In parallel with the video series, we have created a checklist for businesses to approach their food label. It is a document that will help businesses to identify any gaps that they can address in order to be compliant.”

Connie McKinstry

The checklist and other information around the legislation are available on the Food Standards Agency (UK) website including an introduction to the new labelling guidance for PPDS foods and sector-specific guidance, for example, bakers, retailers or mobile food operators. Keep an eye out for the videos coming shortly to https://www.safefood.net/allergens

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