Food watchdog: pre-packaged food in Scotland should be labelled following allergy death

Scotland's food watchdog has told Holyrood ministers that all pre-packed products should have full ingredient labelling in wake of the death of teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who had a severe allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger sandwich.

Food Standards Scotland's recommendations come in the wake of the death of a customer of Pret a Manger who ate a sandwich not knowing it contained an ingredient to which she was allergic.

Food Standards Scotland said a consultation had concluded that pre-packed foods for direct sale - such as sandwiches and salads which are made and packaged on the same premises where they are sold - should move towards full ingredient labelling in a bid to protect consumers.

The move follows a similar set of recommendations presented to the UK Government by the Food Standards Agency last week.

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The decision was made at a public meeting today, when the FSS Board reviewed and assessed responses to a consultation on the issue, and discussed consumer benefits as well as the risks associated with four options as set out in the consultation.

The four options ranged from "promoting best practice" to full ingredient labelling of all pre-packaged foods. The body has opted to recommend the fourth and most stringent - measure.

Ms Ednan-Laperouse, 15, from south-west London, collapsed on board a flight in July 2016 after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette she had bought at a Pret outlet in Heathrow Airport - not believing in contained sesame, to which she had a severe allergy.

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“Food Standards Scotland’s primary concern is consumer protection - making sure that food is safe to eat for all consumers. There are particular challenges for people with food allergies who have to be able to access the information they need to make the right choices when they’re buying and eating food."

He added: “Consumers were very clear in the consultation that they want to see full ingredient labelling, and FSS will recommend to Scottish Ministers that we should work towards delivery of this, with a more detailed assessment of benefits and risks to be carried out to ensure we achieve that goal.

“It is also vital that consumers with food allergies continue to take responsibility for managing their condition, but to do so they need the best possible information. If in any doubt, ask.”

The scope of the consultation did not include precautionary allergen labelling such as ‘May contain’ statements to indicate the unintentional presence of food allergens due to cross contamination or food that is not packed such as meals served in a restaurant.

FSS’s recommendations will now be submitted to Scottish Ministers.