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It is being introduced following the death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette.
Customers should always feel confident they can buy food products from an outlet and be fully informed of the ingredients
Anne Godfrey, CEO of GS1 UK
A recent study of 500 employers and employees in the food industry found 55 percent welcome more definitive and explanatory packaging, but a quarter were unaware of how such changes will impact their business.
Some 90 percent of business owners said they have received plenty of information about the new law, but 40 percent of employees have never heard of it.
Eight in ten bosses admitted they feel unprepared for the imminent arrival of the regulations.
Anne Godfrey, CEO of GS1 UK, which commissioned the research as part of its Feed us the Facts campaign, said: “Big changes across the supply chain are coming soon and the research shows there is still a great deal of preparation to be done.
“Customers should always feel confident they can buy food products from an outlet and be fully informed of the ingredients – especially as this can sometimes be a case of life and death.
“However, the research has shown there are some concerns from those in the industry that they simply don’t feel prepared for the change.
“This could be a significant issue when we combine this with prior research that showed over two-thirds of people were too embarrassed to ask about the allergens they were consuming when out-and-about.”
The research, carried out via OnePoll for GS1 UK, revealed product labelling, staff training and providing information at the point of sale are all measures businesses will be taking to tackle the changes.
Just six in ten have taken steps to get their business in a good position for the implementation of the law – it also emerged that a quarter weren’t aware of how the law will affect their workplace.
The most common issues were lack of training, increased costs from packaging, range reduction and data transparency from suppliers.
In the worst-case scenario, the cost of being compliant could mean higher prices and a reduced range of products to consumers.
With just a month to go until new legislation comes into effect, only 39 percent had provided training or had been trained on types of allergens.
More than half said the new law required money to be spent changing packaging, with more information needing to be requested from suppliers and the need to find a better way to collate this additional information to ensure it can be a trusted product.
Businesses cannot afford to carry these additional costs, and as a result 41 percent said the changes will end up increasing the prices of the products they sell.
Of those surveyed, 67 percent believe there should be more financial support from the government to help businesses with the transition.
Eight in ten chain and franchise owners would look to switch suppliers if they cannot provide the correct allergen information or take responsibility for the ingredients in their products.
The vast majority of respondents, 86 percent, said it should be compulsory for food packaging to detail all possible allergens – however, four in ten wouldn’t feel completely confident they’d be able to answer questions about allergens within their products when asked by a customer.
Anne Godfrey continued: “Natasha’s law brings in a better visibility of allergens in the hope of saving lives through giving consumers a better understanding of what they’re purchasing.”
Henry Dimbleby, author of the National Food Strategy, added: “Natasha’s law represents a hugely positive, yet complex transformation for the food sector – one fraught with risk.
“It is worrying that the awareness of the changes is inconsistent, but not particularly surprising after everything the sector has had thrown at it over the last 18 months.
“It’s therefore fantastic to see a data solution that will help companies, particularly smaller companies, make the required changes while reducing both bureaucracy and the opportunities for error.”
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