Food Labelling: Using DLT to save lives

Following the tragic death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse the subject of tougher food labelling laws has frequently been in the news.

The 15 year old from Fulham died in 2016 after eating a baguette from food chain Pret a Manger which did not detail the full list of ingredients including her deadly allergy to sesame.

Now Environment Secretary Michael Gove wants tougher labelling laws to be implemented to prevent further deaths for people with allergies, with all packaged food such as sandwiches and salads required to list their full ingredients.

The teenager suffered a cardiac arrest on board a flight after suffering a severe anaphylactic shock: current laws do not have to list the ingredients of food packaged and sold on the premises and the inquest heard Natasha was “reassured” by the lack of specific allergen information.

Four options are now being put forward for all food which is made, packaged and sold on the premises. These are:

  • Full ingredient list labelling
  • Allergen-only labelling
  • Ask-the-staff labels with supporting information available for consumers in writing
  • Promoting best practice around communicating allergen information to customers

The family of Natasha are calling for the full ingredient list to become legislation, calling the other options “very soft” alternatives.

Andrew Bird, CEO of GSM said that the UK government could “lead the way in detailing allergies which would help millions of people,” but added, “there is a much better way than legislating for stickers or printed leaflets.”

“Food labelling might not seem like the kind of area where technology could help, but the opportunities for increased transparency on ingredients and nutrition is considerable.

“Michael Gove has said he wants to ‘ensure that labels are clearer’ so allergy sufferers can have confidence in their food but there if you make this about what you can manage to fit on some packaging then you are limited with that information.

“Technology allows you to circumvent that problem and enable the UK to lead the way in nutritional and proof of provenance information.”