How complying with Natasha’s Law can help you manage your bakery better

The UK government’s proposed introduction of Natasha’s Law poses a challenge if you use manual systems and spreadsheets to manage your retail baking businesses.

However, the process of complying with these new rules is a perfect place to start if you are thinking about taking the step up to automating the way you control your bakery.

From summer 2021, the law will require food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on all food that is pre-packed on premises for direct sale (PPDS) such as packaged sandwiches or salads made by staff earlier in the day and placed on a shelf for purchase.

This is a big change from the current food information regulations. Currently, both loose goods and PPDS foods are not required to carry labels. The idea is that customers can ask counter staff for any allergen info they require.

With the new rules, however, failure to label PPDS food properly not only risks criminal prosecution, it also had serious implications when it comes to insurance and liability.

Due to the case which prompted the new rules, in which teenager Natasha Ednan-Laperouse tragically died after suffering an allergic reaction to a Pret a Manger baguette, some retailers have already started to label PPDS food. In two years’ time, food allergy sufferers, their families and friends will expect nothing more than across-the-board compliance.

Clearly, behind-the-counter recipe books (which are in themselves cumbersome to keep up to date) won’t cut it. Under the new rules, PPDS food will need labels that are printed on-site with full and accurate ingredients and declarable allergens.

On the face of it, this may seem simple enough. Label printers are, after all, fairly cheap commodity items. But how do you manage and generate the label information in the first place and, furthermore, make sure that it is up to date and correct?

Reassuringly, we have an application that does just that and has been doing it for years. We released Cybake’s Infood food information module back in 2014 at the request of wholesale users who needed a solution to the current food information regulations.

The beauty of Cybake Infood for the baker making the move towards automation is that it requires that you hold your ingredients, recipe and production data within Cybake’s core system. Straight away, your data is more organised and there’s no longer any need to be constantly re-entering information from one paper-based system or spreadsheet to another.

Time saving

You don’t need a separate system to figure out your products’ allergen and nutritional info. Instead, ingredients data for each of your products feeds directly into the Cybake Infood module which works it all out for you, saving huge amounts of time and effort.

Cybake Infood cross-checks all ingredients and sub-components for the 14 declarable allergens and, if needed, calculates your products’ nutritional and QUID data plus optional data on elements (protein, fibre etc) and all other claims and declarations (free-from, vegan etc).

Once all components are verified with a “traffic light” safety check, Cybake Infood outputs the data to your shops’ labelling system (including Bartender, Clarisoft and SATO) to produce the labels needed by the new legislation. Handily, it can also update your specification sheets, your online catalogue (if you use Cybake’s online ordering module) and even your website.

Now, when you swap/add/reduce an ingredient across a product or range of products, Cybake automatically reflects this change right across your recipes and production as well the allergen and nutritional info needed for your labels.

The need to go through recipe spreadsheets to recalculate the required data line-by-line is eliminated. You are safe in the knowledge that you are always fully compliant and your food information is up to date and correct.

Once you have your Natasha’s Law-compliant labelling system set up, you can be free to explore the other ways Cybake can streamline your operations.

So, if you are thinking about using a bakery management system that will help you save time, improve efficiency and increase sales, why not start with getting your business ready for the new rules now? Call us today on 01904 622888 or drop us a line at info@cybake.co.uk. We can have you up and running in no time.

Jane Tyler is the managing director of Cybake creator RedBlack Software, vice-chair of the British Society of Baking and a regular speaker at food and technology industry events in the UK. You can follow her on Twitter at @Jane_RedBlack and on LinkedIn here.

About Jane Tyler

Jane Tyler founded RedBlack Software in 1998 and is the chief architect of Cybake, Britain’s leading bakery management software suite.