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natasha ednan-laperouse

Eight in 10 business owners feel unprepared for new food regulations to be introduced under Natasha’s Law, according to new research.

The rules are set to come into effect from 1 October, five years after teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died as a result of an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette. They will require all food businesses to provide full ingredient lists and allergen information on foods pre-packaged for direct sale in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Yet only 48% of employees in small independent businesses have heard of Natasha’s Law, according to a survey commissioned by food data specialist GS1 UK.

In bigger chains and franchises, 79% of employees were aware of the incoming requirements.

One fifth of small independent businesses felt the new legislation was coming in too soon and did not leave enough time to adapt, a view also held by 2% of chains and franchises.

In a campaign backed by National Food Strategy author Henry Dimbleby, GS1 UK is calling for its technology to be used to add ‘2D barcodes’, similar to QR codes, to packaging, which can be scanned to access detailed information.

“Natasha’s Law represents a hugely positive, yet complex transformation for the food sector – one fraught with risk,” said Dimbleby.

“It is worrying that the awareness of the changes is inconsistent, but not particularly surprising after everything the sector has had thrown at it over the last 18 months. It’s therefore fantastic to see a data solution that will help companies, particularly smaller companies, make the required changes while reducing both bureaucracy and the opportunities for error.”

GS1 UK CEO Anne Godfrey said: “We believe that 2D barcodes – like a QR code or data matrix – should be used on a product’s packaging, no matter what type of product it is. These barcodes can hold significantly more information about a product and can also link to additional data sources which either a supplier or consumer can access through a quick scan.

“To achieve this, GS1 standards must be used to ensure information can be accurately collected in a way that will ensure interoperability between a myriad of systems and technology platforms.”

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