Improved labelling on food sold prepacked for direct sale becomes law to protect Scottish consumers

New legislation which requires food businesses in Scotland to include detailed ingredient and allergen information on labels for prepacked for direct sale (PPDS) foods will become law on 1 October 2021.

The law will make it a mandatory requirement for food businesses to include the product name and make sure a full list of ingredients, including allergen information, is clearly identifiable.

Prepacked for direct sale refers to any item of food packaged so that its contents cannot be altered before being sold to the customer. Items include sandwiches, pies, burgers, ready meals or cakes/baked goods prepared and packaged by a food business before the consumer selects them1.

The term also refers to food items which have been packaged before being offered for sale on the same premises or from a mobile or temporary business, such as a market stall or food truck owned by that same business.

The new law will offer increased protection and confidence for consumers living with a food allergy or intolerance. From 1 October, PPDS labelling should include the 14 ‘most common’ allergens1 specifically listed in food information law, as well as other ingredients which could trigger reactions.

Consumers have been calling for improved labelling for some time. The changes to the law follow the tragic and highly publicised case of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in 2016 following a severe allergic reaction to an undeclared ingredient in a baguette sold PPDS.

 Food Standards Scotland’s Chair, Ross Finnie, says:

“This legislation comes in response to an overwhelming number of requests from consumers and families of those at risk for complete allergen and ingredient information to be clearly visible on PPDS foods.

“By doing this, consumers can have clarity and trust in the food they buy, making it easier for those needing this information for safety and dietary reasons. This is a significant step forward and from 1 October retailers must provide clear information to consumers. The changes mirror those being introduced across the UK.

“Food Standards Scotland has carried out extensive stakeholder engagement across the industry on the benefits, risks and impacts of this new legislation and has developed a suite of support assets. We will continue to highlight the changes and support retailers with practical guidance and online resources.”

Mr Finnie adds that the new requirement follows extensive consultation and engagement with business, partners, stakeholders and consumers on how best to improve allergen information to help prevent further food allergy deaths in the out of home environment.

As precautionary, he says, allergen labelling may also be added to PPDS food items to make consumers aware of the risk of the unintentional presence of an allergen, for example, due to the allergen entering the product accidentally or through cross contamination.

This can be done on a voluntary basis after a meaningful risk assessment has been performed. It should not, however, be a substitute for thorough cleaning and safe production.

Food Standards Scotland will work closely with the Food Standards Agency to publish information to ensure that businesses of all sizes throughout the UK can prepare and adapt to these changes.

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