The out of home industry has been making the headlines recently – but sadly for all the wrong reasons. I am referring to the truly tragic case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who collapsed and died after doing something as seemingly innocuous as grabbing the ‘wrong’ baguette from Pret A Manger. She was just 15.
Pret has been criticised since for adopting a food labelling procedure that some believe is more appropriate for an independent outlet than a large chain. As we go to print, Pret has promised to change its policy, with CEO Clive Schlee saying: “We will start trialling new labels which show full ingredients, including allergens, on packaging from next month. This will be rolled out to all UK shops as quickly as possible.”
I don’t wish to wade into such a sad issue that clearly has no winners, so I’ll just leave you with the advice I have received from Dominic Watkins, global head of food group for legal business DWF, who points the way forward for the industry: “It is highly likely that other food companies will follow in Pret’s footsteps in voluntarily providing allergen information on the labels of freshly prepared products, despite it not being legally required. And those that don’t jump on board might not have a choice in the matter for much longer.
“It’s appearing increasingly likely that the government will remove the ‘pre-packed for direct’ classification from regulations, meaning that all types of food in packaging will be required to declare any allergens on the packaging, rather than providing it orally or by a sign as the law currently allows.”