Morecambe Bay health trust brings in new food labelling law one year early
The trust which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary is leading the way by introducing a new law a year early.
Natasha’s Law, which is due to come into full effect in the summer of 2021, was formulated following the tragic case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, a teenager who died after suffering an allergic reaction to a baguette purchased from a national sandwich retail outlet in July 2016.
The new law will require organisations and businesses that provide food to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged foods to protect the UK’s two million food allergy sufferers.
One year early, the forward-thinking catering team at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT) has introduced full allergen food labelling for all of its products.
Jackie O’Brien, catering manager at the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, said: “We started to look more closely at our allergen labelling after the tragic case of Natasha. What happened to Natasha brought home the huge importance of allergen labelling. I think some people didn’t realise just how drastic the outcome could be.
“We could see that people were going to want detailed allergen information so we decided to do it before the official regulation was due to come in.
“I think that we’re a really forward-thinking and proactive team. We are always thinking of ways to improve things for our patients and customers.
“Our team has worked very hard because for each individual item you have to know all of the contents. We have also worked extremely hard on our labelling system. Everything needs to have the allergen ingredients on it.
“Our restaurant menu is online and we make everything fresh on the day for patients, staff and visitors. The allergens are also recorded on our menus.”
The entire catering team has got behind the initiative and each member of staff knows where to find the allergen information. Colleagues can ask one of the trust’s chefs if they are unsure of anything and key members of staff have had Food Standards Agency allergen training. This training is currently being rolled out across the entire team.
The team has worked with a company called Planglow on the labelling system. Planglow’s labelling software enables the team to produce the allergen and nutritional labels effectively. The allergen and nutritional information is printed on the back of the packaging and is easy to read.
Hospital catering teams also have to meet particular national guidelines such as Commissioning for Quality and Innovation to reduce the volume of fat, sugar and salt in food and drinks.
Jackie said: “We have also introduced e-Meals – an electronic meal ordering service for patients. This service has drastically reduced food waste. We want to offer the very best to people who are not feeling their best.
“We offer a variety of menus to cater for every need. There is a set menu, a little-of-what-you-fancy menu for long-stay patients, finger food for patients with dementia and soft and pureed food. It’s a case of managing all of the different requirements.”
Foluke Ajayi, chief operating officer for UHMBT, said: “Our catering team has shown a great deal of foresight in bringing in Natasha’s Law early within our Trust. This means we now have even greater protection for patients, staff and visitors who use the catering team’s services.
“I would like to thank all of the members of our Catering Team who have worked hard to bring in this new system early. It has resulted in a better experience for everyone who uses our catering services.”