Why Natasha’s Law is long overdue and will help save lives

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Picking up food on the go is something a lot of us do on a regular basis, the majority of us not even looking at the ingredient list. But for allergy sufferers, having the wrong sandwich could mean the difference between life and death.

The introduction of Natasha’s Law earlier this month has now made this simple task much easier as companies are now required to provide a complete list of ingredients and allergens on packaged foods for sale on the spot.

The law was first proposed in 2019 following the tragic death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who in 2016 suffered a fatal allergic reaction after eating a baguette purchased at Pret a Manger that contained sesame seeds not declared.

The 14 most common allergens. Photo provided by the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation.

And it has taken until now to finally get it introduced.

But what does this mean for people with allergies or living with family members who have it?

Build confidence

Lesley Garden, a food blogger and a mother of two who lives in Inverurie with her husband, Keith, is all too familiar with food allergies.

Her daughter, Anna, 15, has a peanut allergy and has been allergic to eggs for a year or two since she was born.

Lesley’s mother is also celiac, so the introduction of this law will dramatically improve her family’s confidence in business, ”highlighting the ingredients in ready-to-use products.

She said, “The egg is one of those allergies you can get out of, but it was really bad when she was a baby. We arrived at the scene with her allergy tests where she ingested it and it was quite an emotional day when we found out she could eat eggs. We both burst into tears. Unless you experience it, I don’t think you understand the relief of ticking one off the list.

Lesley Garden (center) with her daughters Anna (left) and Catherine (right).

“This change in the law is long overdue. It seems ridiculous that you can sell something without identifying what is in it.

“For Anna, it gives her more assurance that it’s all about the labeling. Allergies should be front and center, then all ingredients should be listed. This helps him to make informed decisions.

“That means she doesn’t need to just have a cheese and ham sandwich because they’re safe. She is quite greedy and the more aware she is, the better.

“Not a fad”

Anna’s egg allergy was so severe that she might have trouble breathing if she ingested it. But while her peanut allergy persists, Lesley is happy to see Anna gain even more independence when she scoops food on the go.

“It’s not a fad. It is life threatening for her if she eats these things. I think she can make these decisions on her own, without me helping her grow.

Anna Garden has lived with her allergy her entire life.

“Throughout elementary school, I had control over what she ate. When they walk away from you in high school, it’s terror.

“You have to give your child independence, but when she came to ask me to go out to school for lunch, I was scared.

Her throat tightens and she starts to growl because she can’t breathe.

Lesley Garden

“The fact that she can go and check all the labels of everything on sale is really reassuring. You cannot make their life different from that of their friends.

“I’m teaching him to check the labels, but if the labels aren’t correct where do you go from there?” “

Room for improvement

As Anna wears her EpiPen at all times and all of her close friends and family are trained in its use, Lesley says she still has concerns about dining out, especially in restaurants and cafes. .

She has seen the industry adapt over the past 15 years, she’s been a mother to a child with allergies, but says more needs to be done in terms of staff training and understanding the severity allergies.

An EpiPen similar to the one used by Anna and many other allergic people.

She added: “Staff training in restaurants needs to be better. About 10 years ago I ordered Anna breakfast without eggs because I explained that she had an egg allergy. They put it down with eggs on it. Luckily her allergies weren’t airborne, but I couldn’t believe it.

“Anna is 15 now and in all these years the waiters have only asked me once if she has her EpiPen with her.

“I had to explain, when people were vague, that she could potentially stop breathing. It’s terrifying to see him. Her throat tightens and she starts to growl because she can’t breathe.

“Restaurants are much better now than they’ve ever been, but things still need to get better. With the online reservation so good these days, I am now able to inform the restaurant about the reservation.

Lesley makes food like this chicken taco dish, which is on her Lost in Food blog, for Anna to enjoy.

“When I was at Wahaca in London, they were phenomenal. She has her own menu and a table of ingredients on all dishes. It was so easy and took all the fear away. The manager processed Anna’s order separately. I’ve never had anything like it.

LiberEat-like apps have also been very helpful and how technology can be used to help people with allergies be more confident about food is so brilliant. “

“This law is a huge step in the protection of people with life-threatening allergies. It changes life. “

“May contain nuts”

Thomas Johnstone is 25 years old. He lives in Aberdeen and is studying for an MSc in Sustainability Transitions at the University of Aberdeen.

He is allergic to tree nuts, peanuts and sesame.

Due to the introduction of Natasha’s Law, Thomas says he can now pick up food faster and with confidence. However, he remains cautious, as cross-contamination is always a problem for allergy sufferers.

Thomas Johnstone.

“I am more allergic (anaphylactic) to hazelnuts and slightly allergic to sesame.

“I think the introduction of the new law will help a lot. It sucks that you have gone to a store and found that the products have no clear labeling or no allergens.

“For some places, especially those that prepare the daily fresh food, there will always be a risk of cross-contamination and this is something that we have to weigh individually.

It’s such a shame that it took a death for this kind of change to take effect. “

Thomas Johnstone.

“However, I remember when Pret started putting a full ingredient list on their products and it made things a lot easier for me to check.

“It’s also sometimes a little embarrassing to have to ask a staff member what ingredients are used in their products, and then they pull out a huge allergen file. This removes the “grab-and-go” aspect.

Why did someone have to die to change?

With the law now in place, it’s bittersweet for people with allergies to know that it took a tragic death for their concerns to be heard and legislation put in place.

He added: “It’s such a shame that it took a death for this kind of change to take effect. I think there needs to be more information and awareness around allergies in general – especially with things like EpiPens and their use.

“I could also go on to say that the ‘may contain’ labeling also causes a lot of problems and removes a lot of foods that I could potentially eat.

Thomas enjoying a meal outside.

“I’ve seen packaging that says they don’t guarantee that the food is nut-free despite being prepared on a nut-free site and according to a nut-free recipe.

“I hope Natasha’s Law will help people really realize how serious proper labeling is for us who have these allergies and leads to more positive change and awareness.

“We can all understand that we’re stressed out and have to move quickly, so being able to know what’s in food faster and easier than having to talk to staff really helps a lot.

“I hope this will also make it easier to support small local businesses.”


To learn more about Natasha’s law …


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