'Natasha's Law': Stricter food labeling laws could be in place within year after Pret A Manger sandwich death

Tom Embury-Dennis

The teenager who died after eating a Pret A Manger sandwich could give her name to stricter food labelling laws which could be in place within a year, her parents have said.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse suffered an allergic reaction and collapsed on board a flight to Nice after eating a sandwich she bought at Heathrow Airport containing sesame seeds, which she was allergic to.

The 15-year-old, from west London, later died in hospital.

After meeting with environment secretary Michael Gove, her parents said he told them he wanted to introduce “Natasha’s Law” next year.

Natasha’s father, Nadim, said: “I think we are moving to a tipping point, a really crucial point... a fundamental point for things to actually change in society, for people to become conscious in their conversations and their thoughts about allergies. So things that have previously been in the dark, are now going to come out into the light.

“And that’s really really important, and only good will come from that.”

He said of the meeting with Mr Gove: “It was so positive actually, we were taken by surprise, and that’s a wonderful thing for us, in our situation and also for all the other people who have allergies in this country.”

Mr Ednan-Laperouse said at an inquest earlier this month that his daughter died in 2016 because of “inadequate food labelling laws”, as the packaging did not mention the baguette contained the seeds.

The family are calling for greater consistency in labelling and want products to be physically labelled with complete allergen information.

Mr Gove told the couple a full review would happen between now and Christmas, followed by a consultation, and that he “sees no reason” why the new legislation could not be in place by summer – three years after the teenager died.

He also told them he will be expecting and advising large companies, such as Pret, to be ahead of the curve by starting the labelling “as soon as possible” before the law is fully in place, Natasha’s mother Tanya said.

She added: “He felt it’s the right thing that they should be doing and they should start doing it as soon as possible, because, he said, no one should ever, ever suffer a death such as Natasha’s that could be so easily avoided.”

After the inquest into Natasha’s death, Pret announced that full ingredient labelling will be introduced to all products that are freshly made in its shop kitchens, and labels will list all ingredients, including allergens.

Mr Gove said it was “an honour” to meet Natasha’s parents.

He said: “Since receiving the coroner’s report, we have been working at pace with the Food Standards Agency and businesses to review the current allergen labelling rules. We are aiming to bring forward concrete proposals to change the law around the turn of the year.

“Natasha’s parents have suffered a terrible loss and yet have shown such tremendous strength and grace in their push for change. It was an honour to meet them today.”

Additional reporting by PA