New allergen labelling requirements for food businesses

From 1 October 2021, the requirements for prepacked for direct sale food labelling will change in Wales, England, and Northern Ireland. At present, the allergen information for food products can be provided by any means. This includes being informed verbally by staff. The new legislation follows the tragic death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered a fatal allergic reaction after eating a baguette bought from Pret a Manger.  

As the law at the time didn’t require sandwiches prepared on site to be labelled with allergen information, Natasha was unaware that the baguette contained sesame.  Following Natasha’s death, her parents campaigned for a change to the law to better protect allergy sufferers.

The new legislation means that from October 2021:

  • businesses will need to label products prepared and packaged on site with a full ingredients list and allergen information emphasised (for example by using bold font) on this list
  • packaged sandwiches, salads, and other items made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase should be labelled
  • food that’s not in packaging, or is packed after being ordered by the customer, doesn’t need to be labelled (allergen information still needs to be given, but you can do this orally)

What is PPDS food?

Prepacked for direct sale or “PPDS” is food which is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to consumers and is in this packaging before it is ordered or selected.

It can include food that consumers select themselves (e.g. from a display unit), as well as products kept behind a counter and some food sold at mobile or temporary outlets.

Examples of PPDS food include:

  • Sandwiches and bakery products which are packed on site before a consumer selects or orders them
  • Fast food packed before it is ordered, such as a burger under a hot lamp where the food cannot be altered without opening the packaging
  • Products which are prepackaged on site ready for sale, such as pizzas, rotisserie chicken, salads and pasta pots
  • Burgers and sausages prepackaged by a butcher on the premises ready for sale to consumers
  • Samples of cookies given to consumers for free which were packed on site
  • Foods packaged and then sold elsewhere by the same operator at a market stall or mobile site

PPDS food provided in schools, care homes or hospitals and other similar settings will also require labelling.

Food that isn't PPDS

Any food that is not in packaging or is packaged after being ordered by the consumer. These are types of non-prepacked food and do not require a label with name, ingredients and allergens emphasised. Allergen information must still be provided but this can be done through other means, including orally.

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. The new labelling requirements do not apply to PPDS food sold by means of distance selling, such as food that can be purchased over the phone or on the internet.

How can food businesses ensure they meet the new requirements?

If your business sells or supplies PPDS food you need to take action before 1 October 2021 to comply with the law. 

Businesses must check if they produce PPDS food and ensure they are ready to comply with the new requirements. Businesses can use the Food Standard Agency’s allergen and ingredients food labelling decision tool to identify the type of food the business provides and any allergen labelling requirements for these.  Staff at point of sale are likely to require some training around the new requirements.

Further guidance on the new legislation can be found here: https://www.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/media/document/introduction-to-allergen-labelling-changes-prepacked-for-direct-sale-ppds.pdf

Guidance on the detailed rules regarding the content, form and presentation of the name, ingredients and allergen information and the 14 allergens themselves can be found at www.food.gov.uk/PPDS