Sarah Ferguson is championing a cause that is close to her heart. The former Duchess of York has thrown her support behind “Natasha’s Law,” a new piece of legislation in England and Northern Ireland that will require all food businesses to include the full ingredients listed on pre-packaged food.
The law is named after 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who was severely allergic to certain foods and died in 2016 after unknowingly consuming a sandwich from Pret a Manger that contained sesame seeds. The bill is expected to go into effect by summer 2021.
Natasha’s parents, Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, also launched a charity in memory of their daughter on Tuesday, June 25, called The Natasha Allergy Research Foundation. The charity, of which Ferguson is a patron, aims to establish a research center at the University of Southampton to find a cure for allergies.
The 59-year-old former royal told the BBC she “very proud” to be involved with the charity.
Ferguson, who is the ex-wife of Britain’s Prince Andrew, also opened up about her own painful connection to fatal food allergies. “My uncle, aged 10, died from a crab sandwich at Brancaster Beach,” the children’s book author told ITV News. “My father was never the same after that, and my grandmother never forgot John, he was called John.”
Continued the royal relative: “It wasn’t until working with Nadim and Tanya and being with them that I suddenly realized, ‘Can you imagine what my grandmother went through?’”
Though Ferguson obviously wasn’t alive when her uncle passed away, she was aware of the circumstances surrounding his death. “He was out on the beach with nanny, he wasn’t even with my grandmother or my father, she recalled. “He was on his own with nanny and he died within minutes.”
According to ITV, food allergies are on the rise in the U.K. because people’s eating habits have changed drastically over the past few decades. Furthermore, increased exposure to hundreds of different new chemicals means severe food allergies are becoming increasingly common.