Food business operators in the retail and catering sector must provide allergen information and follow labelling rules as set out in food law.
This means that food business operators have to:
- provide allergen information to the consumer for both prepacked (any food put into packaging before being placed on sale) and loose (non-prepacked) food and drink
- handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation.
For information on the 14 allergens please click here. They include cereals containing gluten, eggs, nuts, milk etc.
Different allergen labelling rules apply depending on how the food is provided.
Non-Prepacked Food (Loose Foods)
Non-prepacked foods (also referred to as food sold loose) are those that are:
- not prepacked
- packed on the operator’s premises at the consumer’s request
In a physical retail environment this is likely to apply to foods which are sold loose from a delicatessen counter (e.g. cold meats, cheeses, quiches, pies and dips), fresh pizza, salad bars, bread sold in bakery shops, meat from butchers, pick and mix confectionery etc.
In a catering environment this is likely to apply to foods which are not sold prepacked, for example food from a takeaway, or meals served in a canteen or a restaurant.
Labelling of Non-Prepacked (Loose Foods)
Foods sold non-prepacked will require the following information be given on a label attached to the food, or on a notice, ticket or label that is easily read and in close proximity to the food:
- Name of the food, e.g. a pie or cake sold in a bakery with the name of food on a tab at the front of the product.
- Quantitative indication of ingredients (meat products only)
- Indication of allergenic ingredients (either on a label attached to the food or by displaying allergen signage inviting the customer to ask a member of staff for more information.)
Prepacked products refer to any food put into packaging before being placed on sale. Food is prepacked when it:
- is either fully or partly enclosed by the packaging
- cannot be altered without opening or changing the packaging
- is ready for sale.
Prepacked food must have an ingredients list present on the packaging. Allergens present in the product must be emphasised each time they appear in the ingredients list.
Allergen Labelling Pre-packed for Direct Sale Foods (Natasha’s Law)
Food Law in Northern Ireland in respect of food allergen labelling changed on 1st October 2021. This change in the law, also referred to as ‘Natasha’s Law’, affects businesses in Northern Ireland that package and sell or offer foods onsite to the final consumer. Any business that produces PPDS food will be required to label it with the name of the food and a full ingredients list, with allergenic ingredients emphasised within the list.
Prepacked for Direct Sale (PPDS) foods explained
All businesses producing food products that classify as PPDS must label them with the name of the food and a full ingredients list with the allergenic ingredients emphasised.
A PPDS food is a food that is packaged at the same place it is offered or sold to customers and is in its packaging before it is ordered or selected. This includes foods such as a sandwich or salad made and packed by staff onsite and placed on a shelf for purchase. It does not include unpackaged foods or that were packaged after being ordered by the consumer, e.g., a sandwich made to order. However, allergen information must still be provided but this can be done through other means, including verbally.
These videos, produced by safefood in partnership with Local Councils in Northern Ireland and the Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland, provide a guide to implementing the new labelling requirements under the law. (The Food Information Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2014 (as amended 2020)).
What is a prepacked for direct sale product?
This video explains what foods classify as PPDS and the labelling changes that need to be made.
How to create an ingredient list to comply with the law
This video shows how businesses can gather the information they need to create the correct food label.
How to design and print a label for PPDS products
This video shows how to design and print a PPDS food label.
It’s important that food businesses in Northern Ireland are aware of their products that classify as PPDS.
The Food Standards Agency has produced a food labelling decision tool that food businesses can use to determine if any of their food products classify as PPDS.
Labelling Guidance for Food Businesses for prepacked direct sale.
Other information on the new labelling requirements is also available including sector-specific guidance e.g. for bakers, retailers or mobile food operators.
- Event Caterers
- Food food and takeaway restaurants
- Mobile sellers and street food vendors
- Restaurants, cafes and pubs
- Schools, colleges and nurseries