Latest regulatory updates

Last updated 11 February 2021

Kurt Janson

Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance, gives a monthly update on the latest regulatory changes affecting the hospitality industry. 

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New food labelling requirements are coming

You may remember that prior to COVID-19 there were a number of high-profile examples of people unwittingly buying prepacked food – notably sandwiches – which contained ingredients that they were allergic to and suffering severe reactions as a result.

These events highlighted a problem with existing food labelling requirements, as they did not apply to food packaged on the premises for sale to consumers.

To resolve this, the Government has introduced new legislation - the Food Information (Amendment) (England) Regulations.

The regulations will come into effect on 1 October 2021 and apply to the labelling of Pre-Packed for Direct Sale (PPDS) foods.

These new regulations require all businesses that prepare and sell pre-packed food on their premises for direct sale to consumers (either on the premises themselves, or at a temporary or mobile site, such as a food truck or market stall) to include a label which shows:

  • the name of the food
  • a full ingredients list, with any of the 14 major allergens emphasised on the ingredients list (i.e. in capitals or a bold font) if they are present in the food.

The 14 major allergens defined in the legislation are:

  • Cereals containing gluten, namely: wheat (such as spelt and Khorasan wheat), rye, barley, oats
  • Crustaceans, for example prawns, crabs, lobster, crayfish
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Soybeans
  • Milk (including lactose)
  • Nuts; namely almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, pecan nuts, Brazil nuts, pistachio nuts, macadamia (or Queensland) nuts
  • Celery (including celeriac)
  • Mustard
  • Sesame
  • Sulphur dioxide/sulphites, where added and at a level above 10mg/kg or 10mg/L in the finished product. This can be used as a preservative in dried fruit.
  • Lupin, which includes lupin seeds and flour and can be found in types of bread, pastries and pasta
  • Molluscs like mussels, whelks, oysters, snails and squid.

What is defined as a PPDS food?

In general terms they are foods that you make and package before the customer selects it. For example, if you make and package sandwiches which customers select from a shelf or from behind the counter, this applies to you. Similarly, if you produce fresh juice and put it in a bottle for the customer to buy, or produce packets of sausages, this applies to you. It even applies to packaged samples of your products if you have visitors to your cheese factory or distillery.

In terms of determining whether food is packaged, the definition is that it “cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging in some way”.

The regulations do not apply to food and drink that you package after the customer orders it. This means the following are outside the scope of the new regulations:

  • Sandwiches that you make to order for the customer
  • Situations where the customer asks if you can provide them with a packed lunch
  • When a customer selects a food product from behind the counter, which you then wrap from them to take away.

While the regulations do not come into force until October this year, I would encourage all businesses that provide PPDS to adopt the new labelling as soon as possible in order to help ensure the safety of your customers.

More information on the new requirements and how to comply is available on the FSA website.