Five years ago, 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse lay unconscious in a hospital bed, minutes away from taking her final breath. Her mother was forced to say her last goodbyes over the phone, knowing she would never speak to her daughter again.
For many of us, this is a regular day-to-day lunch spot. For Natasha and her family, a legal loophole ended in travesty.
In the hours prior to her death, Natasha picked up a baguette before boarding her flight from Heathrow Airport. She was unaware that her chosen meal contained sesame seeds, to which she was severely allergic.
The 15-year-old went into anaphylactic shock aboard a British Airways flight to Nice.
Her death prompted huge conversation about the importance of proper labelling. Natasha’s parents – Tanya and Nadim – channelled their devastation and heartbreak into fighting the legal loophole that resulted in the loss of their daughter.
Before today (Friday, October 1), cafes and food shops did not have to label the allergens in the meals they served, so long as the food was made on the premises.
In 2019, the parents’ tireless campaigning paid off when the government gave the green light to a crucial law change.
Two years on, the legislation has finally come into force.
Cafes and eateries must now label all the ingredients in their pre-packed meals and highlight the allergens, to ensure everyone is aware of what they are eating.
Aptly named Natasha’s Law in homage to the 15-year-old, the move could save the lives of people who live with severe – potentially fatal – allergies.
Following the inquest, Pret-A-Manger began to roll out a number of changes to ensure that another tragic event never occurs again.
If you walk into a Pret-a-Manger restaurant, you should find your food clearly labelled, both on the shelf and on the packet.
The shelf sign lists all the ingredients in each sandwich, with the allergens highlighted and then repeated again underneath. You may also spot a bright green symbol to tell you if your chosen sandwich is vegan or vegetarian.
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Pret now lists the ingredients on the individual packets too, with the most common allergens emboldened.
But it shouldn’t just be in Pret – if the law is being adhered to, you will be able to spot these life-saving changes on all pre-packaged foods, whether you’re visiting Costa, Eat, Itsu or any other food-to-go spot.
Those that don’t comply with the new legislation could face serious consequences. Not only are the repercussions grave for people who live with allergies, but delis and cafes could face closure and criminal action.
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