- Published 28th May 21
- Categories Blog
New Food Labelling Requirements
From October, all businesses that produce PPDS food will be required to label each item with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list. While this is a positive move for the greater good of consumers and should be welcomed, it does however, create an extra layer of complexity for businesses to ensure they are adhering to the often confusing criteria.
There’s also the question of where to draw the line when it comes to listing ingredients, as all the ‘bought in’ ingredients used in a recipe will need to be broken down and their components included on the label. This will create potential headaches along the supply chain in a cascading formation of ingredients, within ingredients, within ingredients, and so on.
For example, if a PPDS tuna sandwich contains mayonnaise, the ingredients label would require it to be broken down to include the ingredients and allergens present in the mayonnaise too, creating a potential issue around spacing on the label. Magnify this problem with a recipe that contains more than 10 component parts, which all also individually have an average of 12 components, and you’re running out of label space very fast!
It’s also going to be of vital importance that the most up-to-date label is always used on food items. If a recipe changes and different ingredients are used and this isn’t reflected on the label, the entire process will be rendered pointless and potentially dangerous.
What can be done to help the process?
Manually tracking every ingredient used across a dish, which could have an evolving specification, simply isn’t feasible – you have to use technology.
As already alluded to, there is significant scope for human error with a manual process, that is almost entirely eliminated through the adoption of automated procedures, with the necessary human checks in place.
Back in January, we set up a working party of of consultants to look at the available systems on the market and after prolonged discussions and trials we feel that we have found the easiest and most cost eﬃcient way to deliver compliant labels for our clients.
LabelLogic Live enables you to create, amend, update and print your labels with ease and on the go, whilst remaining fully compliant with food labelling legislation at all times.
You can use Planglow’s state-of-the-art, online application on any device and a desktop printer to print product labels on demand. For our own client schools, we’ve created our own, bespoke label, which can be loaded to the system to save catering managers time.
LabelLogic Live is a subscription based service withlive updates to all suppliers that use Erudus (a market leading source of accurate allergy, nutritional and technical product data, populated by the food industry) and continued support from your local rep.
Whatever system you decide to go for, catering staff will need advice and training on the implications of Natasha’s Law and the label systems available.
Spotlight on allergens:
Tree nuts are a common cause of food allergy in children and adults. When someone has a tree nut allergy their immune system is reacting to the proteins in the nut.
It is most common to develop a nut allergy before the age of 5, however it is also possible for older children and adults to develop allergic symptoms, even when tree nuts have been eaten previously without any symptoms of allergy.
Tree nut allergy appears to be getting more common in both children and adults. Allergies to tree nuts tend to be persistent and it is rare for people to grow out of them, especially over the age of five.
Those with an existing peanut allergy have an increased likelihood of around 30-40% of developing a tree nut allergy.
Tree nuts, as the name suggests, are grown on trees. It is possible to be allergic to one or more types of tree nuts. An allergy to one tree nut does not mean an allergy to all tree nuts, however there is an increased likelihood of having an allergy to more than one tree nut. This is due to similar proteins in the different tree nuts and is referred to as cross-reactivity. People with an allergy to tree nuts also have an increased risk of sesame allergy due to cross reactivity.
There are eight tree nuts in the tree nut family including:
Shea nuts are also a tree-nut and are being increasingly used in confectionary in the form of butter or oil. So it is important to watch out for these too.
It is also important to know that tree nuts are from a different family to peanuts, a peanut is a legume.
What are the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction to Tree Nuts?
Signs and symptoms usually occur within minutes of contact with tree nuts, but can also occur up to two hours later. Most allergic reactions to tree nuts are mild but for some people they can also be moderate or severe. Anaphylaxis (pronounced ana-fil-laxis) is the most severe form of allergic reaction, which can be life threatening.
Mild to moderate symptoms include: • Itchy mouth, tongue and throat • Swelling of lips, around the eyes or face • Red raised itchy rash (often called nettle rash, hives or urticaria) • Vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea • Runny nose and sneezing
Severe symptoms of anaphylaxis include: • Swelling of the tongue and/or throat • Difficulty in swallowing or speaking • Change in voice (hoarse voice) • Wheeze (whistling noise) or persistent cough • Difficult or noisy breathing • Dizziness, collapse, loss of consciousness (due to a drop in blood pressure) • Pale, floppy, sudden sleepiness in babies.
There is currently no cure for a tree nut allergy, the complete avoidance of tree nuts and foods which contain tree nuts is an important part of living with a tree nut allergy.
Tree nuts in cooking
Tree nuts are widely used in a variety of foods and are a common ingredient in different types of cooking like Asian, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine.
They can also be found in foods like baked goods, cereals, ice cream and desserts.
The soya bean belongs to the legume family, which includes fresh and dried peas, beans, carob, liquorice and peanut. Research has shown that a symptomatic reaction to more than one member of the legume family is rare. It is therefore in most cases not necessary to avoid all foods from this plant family.
Soya is widely used in foods and is difficult to avoid – as many as 60% of manufactured foods contain soya.
How is it used?
Soy comes from soybeans and immature soybeans are called edamame beans. Soya can be ingested as whole beans, soya flour, soya sauce or soya oil.
Soya can also be used in foods as a texturiser (texturised vegetable protein), emulsifier (soya lecithin) or protein filler.
Soya flour is widely used in foods including; breads, cakes, processed foods (ready meals, burgers and sausages) and baby foods.
In the UK, the Food Standards Agency advises that refined soya oil (the main component of vegetable oil) should be safe for people with soya allergy, because the proteins that cause allergic reactions are removed during the refining process. However, cold-pressed soya oil, usually sold from delicatessen counters or health food shops, can contain soya protein and should be avoided.
Coming up next month…
Know the Law – who, what, when.
In our ‘Spotlight on Allergens’ feature we will focus on the allergens Peanuts and Seseame Seeds, the foods that are most likely to contain them and the possible alternatives available.
If you are concerned what Natasha’s Law means for you – exactly what information your food labelling should now include along with the costs, logistics and man hours of updating allergen information on packs, then look out for our monthly blog.
Need help with your allergen compliance?
CMC can give you advice and support on all aspects of your food safety in school.
Contact us today to see how we can help you.