Interview with Carol Evans of Ten Kites on Technology, Natasha’s Law and Future Legislation  

The UK Food Labelling Resource was founded by Nutritics  to support the effective roll-out of new food labelling legislation in the UK. The initiative provides expert support and guidance on everything from compliance, labelling and, of course, utilising the very best technology and software solutions available. That is where Ten Kites, a menu publishing platform that has recently become part of the Nutritics offering, comes in. 

Ten Kites empowers food businesses to publish fully compliant, personalised digital menus across multiple customer touch points. This includes publishing menus to web pages, mobile apps, and digital displays. The technology also simplifies the process of updating menus when changes have been made to ingredients, recipes or the menu as a whole. 

Carol Evans is Chief Business Development Officer at Ten Kites and has over 13 years experience in food technology. We recently caught up with her to discuss the growing role of technology in the food industry. We started by asking for her thoughts on Natasha’s Law. 

“It’s a great thing and I think it’s the start of a lot more to come. Consumers will want to know more about the food they eat. Not only will they want to know the ingredients and calories, but they’ll want to know where the food comes from, what’s the environmental impact. Having the FIR food intolerances listed originally was a good first step but ultimately it wasn’t enough. Food establishments might’ve had a hard copy of the allergen matrix behind the counter but that meant it was up to the customer to go looking for more information. This immediately puts the allergen sufferers on the back foot.

Added to that, in the past, the information was quite vague. For instance, on a food item there might’ve been a warning that it “may contain tree nuts”, but wouldn’t say which one. Children might have been allergic to cashew nuts but not hazelnuts. However, because the information was so vague, parents just couldn’t take the risk. Now, because companies have to display a full ingredients list the power has been passed back into the hands of the consumer. 

Teenagers are known to be the least inclined to want to ask whether or not something contains a particular allergen. They end up taking risks because they don’t want to look foolish in front of their friends. So, another reason why it’s important to share your ingredient lists digitally is to actually allow that teenager not to feel embarrassed and let them access the information themselves. And, what’s more, if it’s on a label for Natasha’s law, they can see it right in front of them in black and white.”

Getting a Head Start on Future Legislation With Digital Menus 

The UK Food Information Amendment, also known as Natasha’s Law, comes into effect from October 2021. Evans believes that owners are going to be under pressure to get their businesses ready in time.

Getting your business prepared by the 1st of October is going to be a challenge for everybody. We’ve just been through a pandemic. People are light on resources. There are issues around food truck deliveries and supply chains. Some businesses are having to rebuild recipes from scratch as they can’t find the right food to substitute certain ingredients. The hospitality industry in general is struggling to find staff. I know many of the restaurants we work with at Ten Kites have had to reduce working hours significantly. Some businesses have made the decision to get rid of PPDS foods because they can’t keep up with the demand. Other businesses have gone the other way and are producing more PPDS foods so that they get a better return on their investment. 

The bigger businesses are ahead of the game. They planned for this earlier as they’ve had the resources to prepare for it from the start. I empathise with smaller businesses. They’re the ones where the owner is the chef, manager and procurement person rolled into one. Small, local businesses struggle to get information from suppliers, who might just be the local fisherman for example. 

I will say that this is something they will have to adjust to because it’s how the industry is going. Natasha’s Law is a great development as it means that customers are getting more information, which can only be a good thing. There are even more changes coming down the line and leveraging technology is the only way to go. If you start implementing digital menus, recipe management and food labelling solutions now, you will get a head start on future legislation and amendments as they are rolled out.”    

Preparing for Further Change – Calorie Labelling 

Throughout our conversation, Evans mentioned how Natasha’s Law is the start of more to come. One legislation in particular that will be implemented soon has to do with calorie labelling. The Calorie Labelling (Out of Home Sector) (England) Regulations 2021 would require large businesses (defined as those with 250 or more employees) to display the calorie information of non-prepacked food and drink items prepared for immediate consumption (more information here). This measure is being introduced to tackle obesity in the UK. We asked Carol about this development.  

When this legislation comes into effect, food businesses that are liable must provide the calorie content of dishes on their menus and be prepared to have another menu available that doesn’t show calories. We’re already working on this in Ten Kites and have added the calorie display to our allergen matrix. It’s available on our web menus and printed menus also. We’ve added permissions so that the same menu can be used to show a calorie view or non-calorie view. This means that there isn’t a double cost to businesses who would otherwise have to prepare two separate menus. Having them available digitally also ensures they are current and correct. 

In America, nutritional information and calorie content is already prominently displayed by food businesses across the country. Many of our North American customers are using this feature in a big way. In the UK, we prioritised allergen labelling. In America, they have doubled down on calorie intake. Again, this is coming for UK food businesses so it makes sense to plan ahead.   

This legislation is being implemented in order to tackle obesity but it’s also being done to educate customers. I’ve worked in the food industry for years so I sometimes take for granted that everyone knows everything about nutrition and calorie intake. In reality, a lot of people haven’t had that type of exposure so the concept of calories might be somewhat alien to them. When the legislation comes into effect, customers will hopefully start to better understand basic nutrition information and will make more informed decisions about the food they eat.”

The Knock-on Effect in the Food Industry

For many food businesses, the prospect of further legislation, on top of the already complex challenge of PPDS regulation, might sound daunting. However, to Carol, it’s all connected and underscores the need to adapt to new technologies and grow along with legislative changes. Each amendment will lead to a better, safer and healthier industry. Evans described a type of domino effect that will lead to huge improvements for customers and food businesses alike. 

All of these legislation changes lean towards food businesses providing more balanced menus that satisfy vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, gluten-free, dairy-free, low-calorie, while also providing the right information for allergy sufferers. 

In general, people are becoming more conscious of the food they eat and will become even more conscious as information becomes widely available. People want to know more so that they can make better choices. This in turn is going to inform things like portion sizes. In the past few years, people have started to equate huge portions with value for money. But in reality, huge portions actually means that customers either overeat because they want to finish their plates or food gets sent back to the kitchen and scraped into the bin. 

So, my hope is that as customers become more informed they will understand that bigger doesn’t always mean better. Portion sizes will reduce, which will mean less food will be thrown out. This has an overarching benefit to everyone. If you reduce waste, you reduce your cost of bin collection, you reduce landfill, you can better predict what you need from suppliers, and you can reduce your own running costs. But, indirectly, you also help to reduce obesity and lessen your environmental impact. 

One change will inform another. It’s all connected.”


We’d like to say a huge thank you to Carol Evans of Ten Kites. To learn more about Ten Kites, you can visit their website – tenkites.com