Most of us know that, by law, food companies have to list the ingredients of their products on the packaging, and that allergens, such as nuts, milk and eggs must be highlighted in some way – either by using bold font or a different colour font, for example. There are actually 14 allergens that must be highlighted:
- Cereals containing gluten
- Sesame seeds
- Sulphur Dioxide
What many people are not aware of is that, under The Food Information Regulations 2014, companies that serve ‘loose food’, i.e. made and sold on site, do not to label their food in the same way. These companies only have to display a sign advising what allergens are included in food products or advising the customer to ask a member of staff about them.
Unfortunately, these rules have been shown to be inadequate following the very sad death of teenager, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after having an allergic reaction a baguette that was provided by Pret a Manger. The baguette contained sesame – to which Natasha was allergic – but there was no information on the label informing Natasha of that. Pret clearly expected people to ask if the product they had chosen contained an ingredient to which they were allergic and should have had notices or stickers around the place to require them to do so.
Call for review of food labelling laws
This event has led the prime minister, Teresa May, to call for a review into food labelling standards. Pret a Manger was not breaking the law at the time but has accepted that it needs to label its products more clearly and has announced that it will fully label all freshly made product in the future. Other similar chains have also said they are looking into their labelling.
A case in which a woman died in December 2017 following an allergic reaction after eating a “super-veg rainbow flatbread” bought from Pret a Manger has recently been announced in the press. Investigations are on-going, but Pret blames the death on dairy-free yoghurt bought from Coyo, in which independent tests found traces of dairy protein.
If you have been injured or become ill and you think that it was due to a failure to properly label food, we can help. Contact our experts for confidential advice.