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Natasha's law

From 1 October 2021 laws relating to food labelling are being tightened. Pre-Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS) food had exemptions. These are being rescinded.

If you prepare and pack food in advance of the customer order – even if you are selling from your own premises your labelling must contain:

  • the name of the food
  • a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list.

Examples of food that is prepacked for direct sale are:

  • prepacked paninis or boxes of pizza which can be reheated at the consumer’s request
  • prepacked sandwiches or salad boxes
  • pies in packaging 
  • soup already in pots
  • sausages, burgers, or other foods packaged in store before being ordered or selected
  • steaks that are seasoned or marinated, and packaged on the premises
  • stir fry packs packaged on the premises
  • sliced meat put into packaging on the premises before a consumer orders it.
  • cartons of chips or chicken nuggets, in packaging and placed under a hot lamp
  • breakfast or lunch boxes ready for sale to the final consumer. 

Definition of packaging

Food is PPDS if:

  • the food is fully or partly enclosed by the packaging
  • the food cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging
  • the food is ready for sale to the final consumer.

What to include on a food label

The label for PPDS food will need to show:

  • the name of the food
  • an ingredients list
  • any of the 14 allergens emphasised in the ingredients list, if these are present in the food. 

These criteria need to be displayed in line with the legal requirements (see next page) that apply to naming the food and listing ingredients. The allergenic ingredients within the food must be emphasised every time they appear in the ingredients list.

As with all legislation there are 'grey areas' and not all scenarios /answers can be provided in this advice notice.  More information is available.

Due to the varied nature of each food business model, we encourage all food businesses to review the guidance and legislation to support the implementation of changes for your business.

Name of Food

Legal name 

Some foods have a legally defined name. This can be a prescribed name or a reserved description. 

Prescribed names

These are names which either EU or UK food law specifies must be used for certain foods. For example, ‘sausage’, ‘jam’, ‘sugar’, ‘butter’, ‘skimmed milk’ and various species of sea food, fish and meat. 

Reserved descriptions

To use certain reserved food descriptions you must ensure that the food contains a certain percentage of an ingredient. For example, a ‘beef burger’ must contain 62% beef; an ‘economy beef burger’ must contain 47% beef. Further details of these requirements can be found in food law.

Customary name

Customary names are names that, in time, may come to be accepted by consumers in the UK, or in particular, areas of the UK, as the name of the food, without need for further explanation. For example, this could include fish fingers or Bakewell tarts. 

Descriptive name

A descriptive name is a name which is precise enough to allow consumers to know the true nature of the product. A descriptive name should distinguish it from other foods with which it could be confused.

Ingredients listing

The list of ingredients must be headed or preceded by a suitable heading which consists of, or includes, the word ‘ingredients’. The ingredients used must all be listed in descending order of weight at the time the product was made. 

The 14 allergens required to be declared by food law must be emphasised within this list. This can be done using bold type, capital letters, contrasting colours or through underlining.

The 14 allergens are:

  • celery
  • cereals containing gluten (such as barley and oats)
  • crustaceans (such as prawns, crabs and oysters)
  • eggs
  • fish
  • lupin
  • milk
  • molluscs (such as mussels and oysters)
  • mustard
  • peanuts
  • sesame
  • soybeans
  • sulphur dioxide and sulphites (at a concentration of more than ten parts per million)
  • tree nuts (such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts).

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