The new law, known as Natasha’s Law, was launched in the UK on October 1st 2021. Natasha’s Law makes it a legal requirement for pre-packaged and freshly prepared food to have full ingredient labelling and allergen labelling on the packaging for full consumer transparency. The legal requirement comes into play after the sudden death of a young girl in 2018 from eating a mislabelled sandwich, which highlighted the potentially fatal implications of mislabelling ingredients and subsequent responsibility of retailers and manufacturers to safeguard their customers health. Trust in foodservice and FMCG brands is an important consideration for many UK consumers – overall, 82%1* are influenced, to some extent, by how trustworthy, risk free and familiar a product or service is. It is logical to assume that consumers with allergies are more likely to be aware and concerned about these attributes than the general public.
Mandatory allergen labelling is an important factor for foodservice and FMCG brands to acknowledge on their packaging, due to the dangers that a lack of clarity can cause. Over half (57%)2* of UK consumers are influenced, to some extent, by having allergen information available on packaging as this would determine their purchase ability if they are negatively affected by an ingredient. Allergen labelling can also be described as guidance about product consumption, as the mandatory information will guide consumers on whether the product is suitable for them and their dietary requirements. Almost 1/4 (23%)1 of UK consumers agree that they would like guidance about product consumption on packaging, which highlights the importance for clear and understandable product labels.
Although, the reason for Natasha’s Law being necessary is due to the trust that consumers automatically have in brands and their products to provide adequate and safe labelling, which might not always have been the case pre-October 1st 2021. A sizeable portion (43%)*2 of the UK population admit that they believe information shared by brands is generally reliable, compared to just 17%*2 of UK consumers who don’t agree. Conversely, 41%*2 of people are neutral in this regard, suggesting room for brands to further engage and build an authentic relationship with their customer base; UK consumers generally put trust in foodservice brands to display the correct information, and a new law will hopefully develop this level of trust and ensure that consumers feel certain about their purchasing decisions. As there are always new products and product formulations hitting shelves, having a clear, cohesive labelling mandate will help consumers actively try new products and brands, rather than sticking with what they know and trust.
Natasha’s Law is a legal requirement for food brands in the UK, however the concept of next generation labelling highlights great opportunity in foodservice and FMCG packaging labels to improve their systems and provide consumers with clear information that is easy to understand, with transparency being at the route of next generation labelling innovation.