Saturday 20 October 2018

Girl (15) died after suffering allergic reaction to Pret a Manger - inquest

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse was travelling from the UK to France in July 2016, for a four-day holiday with her best friend
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse was travelling from the UK to France in July 2016, for a four-day holiday with her best friend

Zamira Rahim

A teenage girl who was severely allergic to sesame died after eating a baguette from Pret a Manger which had not listed the ingredient on its packaging, an inquest will hear this week.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse was travelling from the UK to France in July 2016, for a four-day holiday with her best friend when she bought the artichoke, olive and tapenade sandwich from a Pret a Manger store at Heathrow Airport.

The inquest will hear that she collapsed on a British Airways flight shortly after eating the baguette and died later at a hospital in Nice, despite her father's attempts to revive her.

Natasha's father Nadim will give evidence before the coroner.

Sesame is one of 14 allergens that have to be listed on pre-packaged products made off shop premises, according to EU regulations.

But Pret a Manger products are freshly made on-site, so individual products do not have to be labelled with allergen information.

Companies such as EAT and Itsu follow similar procedures.

It is understood that Pret a Manger uses signs on fridges and by tills that tell customers with allergies to speak to a store manager for advice and to see the allergen guide, which is provided online and in stores.

“We were deeply saddened to hear about Natasha’s tragic death, and our heartfelt thoughts are with her family and friends," a spokesperson for Pret a Manger said in a statement.

"We take food allergies and how allergen information is provided to our customers extremely seriously. We will continue to do all that we can to assist the coroner’s inquest.”

The company had started to improve their signage before Natasha's death and shelves now carry tickets which identify whether products contain any of the 14 allergens. The inquest will explore whether more could have been done.

The manager who was working in the Pret a Manger store on the day when Natasha bought the sandwich is due to appear before the coroner during the inquest.

The captain and crew of the British Airways flight will also give evidence during the inquest,  which will examine the treatment Natasha received following her collapse.

"As a family now of three, my wife, son and I are still trying to adjust to life without our beloved girl," Natasha's father said in a statement.

"It’s a daily battle and the pain is indescribable. Everything we say and do is a reminder that she isn’t with us; her empty bedroom, school uniform hanging in her wardrobe, her holiday bag packed for her holiday in Nice has never been unpacked. We can’t bear to.”

Pret a Manger previously came under scrutiny for their handling of allergen information in 2015, when David Matt, a US-based customer, went into anaphylactic shock after eating a sandwich bought from a Pret a Manger store in New York city, The Guardian reported.

Mr Matt was allergic to sesame and later filed a lawsuit against the company, the Pret spokesperson confirmed to The Independent.

Sesame is not one of the eight major food allergens that need to be listed on food, as required by US law, and Mr Matt went on to lose the case.

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