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Natasha’s Law: why data is vital for compliance

When it comes to food allergens, data is important at every step in the supply chain, and can be the key to complying with the new regulations brought about by Natasha's Law.

Due to come into force in October 2021, Natasha’s Law is set to change the way food sellers need to display allergen information on pre-packed for direct sale (PPDS) foods.

Businesses should not underestimate the importance of data when it comes to complying with the new regulations. Those who already have a strong data strategy are in the best position to comply with Natasha’s Law – the rest will struggle to make the necessary changes.

But it’s not too late for businesses to harness the power of PIM, MDM and data governance to ensure they provide the right allergen information.

What is Natasha’s Law?

In 2016, tragedy struck when Natasha Ednan-Laperoise died from an allergic reaction caused by a pre-packed baguette from Pret a Manger. This event led the UK government to introduce Natasha’s Law in 2019, and from this October, the laws on allergen labelling on PPDS foods will change significantly.

Businesses will need to label PPDS products with a full ingredient list and allergen information. Food that isn’t in packaging or that is packed after being ordered doesn’t need to be labelled, but allergen info must be given orally at point of service.

Why is Natasha’s Law important?

According to Allergy UK, the UK has some of the highest prevalence rates of allergic conditions in the world. Over 20% of the population are affected by one or more allergic disorders and an estimated 10 people die each year because of a food allergy.

It’s not just allergens that are driving demand for more detailed food information, but also lifestyle choices and religious commitments. Now more than ever, consumers need to know what’s in their food and drink – which is why it’s vital that retailers use data to label PPDS foods effectively.

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What happens if retailers and food sellers don’t comply with Natasha’s Law?

Businesses that fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of up to £5,000 per offence. If an incident like the Ednan-Laperoise case occurs, the business could be shut down or prosecuted by the Food Standards Agency, or be susceptible to civil claims under the Consumer Protection Act 1984 - not to mention their reputation will take a serious hit.

Worse than that, businesses will be putting allergic consumers at risk of become seriously ill or dying as a result of eating a PPDS food containing an allergen that they weren’t aware of. That’s why they need to get on top of their data to ensure they are labelling food with the right information.

Natasha’s Law: the key data challenge

The new legislation requires retailers to add a full ingredients list on pre-packaged food labels from October. Adding this information is presenting retailers and manufacturers with a significant data challenge.

Retailers will need to scout out ingredients for potentially thousands of PPDS products, while manufacturers will need to fill in extensive forms for their products. It’s an incredibly lengthy task – PPDS food production needs streamlined, effective data solution at every step of the journey. Businesses with access to MDM and PIM are in a much better position to do this, as they have a single centralised source of data spanning every product and ingredient.

Data allergen ‘hotspots’

When it comes to food allergens, data is important at every step in the supply chain. Here are some of the key allergen hot spots to be aware of:

Kitchen

Hazard hotspots:

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It’s crucial that kitchens and manufacturing facilities have data governance strategies that ensure all correct ingredients are assigned to the right products. That means ensuring that everyone who edits, uploads and manipulates the data understands the importance of Natasha’s Law.

Storage and transport

Hazard hotspots:

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If two loose products come into contact they can spread allergens from one to the other. Businesses need PIM or MDM that compiles data across the entire supply chain so that logistics managers can spot where cross contamination might occur and come up with an alternative solution.

Packaging

Hazard hotspots:

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Labelling is how consumers understand what’s in the PPDS product. PIM makes the right data available at the right time from a central source, so that all labels are accurate, up to date and complete.

Why Comma’s data solution can help

Comma works with its partners to deliver PIM, MDM and data governance solutions that help businesses handle their allergen data correctly, creating a centralised, single source of truth that prevents the loss of this crucial information as it passes through the supply chain.

With PIM and MDM, businesses will be able to manage data more effectively, helping them provide accurate information on labels that highlights any of the 14 main allergies. Retailers will find it much easier to update product ingredients and have this data passed on throughout the supply chain, as well introduce new ingredients in accordance with shifts in the market.

To put it simply: Comma helps businesses choose the right data solution for them, helping them label products with the correct information so that customers have the best possible experience and can purchase PPDS products safely.

To find out more about Comma’s PIM, MDM, data governance and data quality services, call us on +44 1926 911820 or fill out the form and one of our data experts will be in touch!