The tragic recent death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse following a severe allergic reaction has raised urgent questions about food labelling. Do you think manufacturers should be doing more?
As father to a 10-year old with severe food allergies, it was particularly upsetting to hear of the recent case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a baguette from Pret a Manger.
The sandwich contained sesame, one of 14 known allergens that by law have to be listed on prepackaged foods.
Pret isn’t legally obliged to list the specific ingredients on the products because it serves fresh, handmade food prepared on-site. But, following recommendations made by the acting senior coroner in Natasha’s case, Pret recently announced that it will begin to show full ingredient labelling on all products.
This is a step in the right direction but it’s a shame that it took such a tragedy for them to act, and I’ll still be very wary of letting my daughter eat in its restaurants.
I feel like Pret could have led the way by introducing allergen labelling on packaging a long time ago, even though it wasn’t legally required.
I hope that other similar businesses follow Pret’s belated lead, and would personally urge Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to push for a change in the law.
Currently, businesses such as sandwich shops and cafes can display a generic sign about allergens, directing customers to ask staff for advice. But from personal experience, some of the blank looks and confused answers I’ve received from shop staff do not fill me with confidence.
On many occasions we’ve had to walk out because the risk just isn’t worth it. I would like to see the labelling laws extended to include these types of establishments.
In the meantime, we’ll be sticking to restaurant chains, which are usually the best option for our family, as, in my experience, they generally have good allergen information.
And with the rise of veganism in the UK recently, there’s been a helpful increase in the number of chains offering new products such as dairy-free cheese on pizzas, and improved food information and awareness.
Do you have an allergy and find it hard to eat out, whether that be in cafes or restaurants? Do you think it’s time for a change in the law over allergen labelling?