Pret ‘deeply sorry’ af­ter girl died from al­ler­gic re­ac­tion

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS -

PRET A Manger says it will “learn” from the death of a teenage girl who suf­fered a se­ri­ous al­ler­gic re­ac­tion to a baguette on a flight from Heathrow Air­port.

Natasha Ed­nan-Lap­er­ouse, 15, col­lapsed on a Bri­tish Air­ways flight to Nice in July 2016.

She had been on her way to a four­day break in France with her fa­ther and best friend when she bought an ar­ti­choke, olive and tape­nade baguette as they passed through Heathrow Air­port’s Ter­mi­nal 5.

The coro­ner at the in­quest into the teenager’s death says he will write to the En­vi­ron­ment Sec­re­tary Michael Gove over whether large busi­nesses should be able to ben­e­fit from reg­u­la­tions that al­low re­duced food la­belling for prod­ucts made in shops.

Record­ing a nar­ra­tive con­clu­sion at West Lon­don Coro­ner’s Court on Fri­day Septem­ber 28, coro­ner Dr Sean Cum­mings, said: “Natasha Ed­nan-Lap­er­ouse died of ana­phy­laxis in Nice af­ter eat­ing a baguette, pur­chased from Pret A Manger at Lon­don Heathrow’s Ter­mi­nal 5.”

He added: “The baguette was man­u­fac­tured to Pret spec­i­fi­ca­tions and con­tained sesame to which she was al­ler­gic.

“There was no spe­cific al­ler­gen in­for­ma­tion on the baguette pack­ag­ing or on the [food dis­play cab­i­net] and Natasha was re­as­sured by that.”

Fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of the in­quest, Clive Sch­lee, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Pret A Manger, said: “We are deeply sorry for Natasha’s death. We can­not be­gin to com­pre­hend the pain her fam­ily have gone through and the grief they con­tinue to feel.

“We have heard ev­ery­thing the Coro­ner and Natasha’s fam­ily have said this week. And we will learn from this.

“All of us at Pret want to see mean­ing­ful change come from this tragedy. We will make sure that it does.”

Ear­lier dur­ing the in­quest it was heard how the pack­ag­ing failed to men­tion that sesame seeds were “hid­den” in the dough.

The teenager suf­fered from nu­mer­ous al­ler­gies and re­acted badly to the sesame seeds, which caused her throat to tighten and vi­cious red hives to flare up across her midriff, even­tu­ally trig­ger­ing car­diac ar­rest.

Two epipens were jabbed into her legs, but the symp­toms did not abate and she died later on the same day at a hospi­tal in Nice.

Dur­ing the in­quest, it emerged that a “spe­cific warn­ing” about the dan­gers of not sign­post­ing the al­ler­gen had been given to the food chain the pre­vi­ous year.

Pret baguettes de­scribed as “posh” or “ar­ti­san” were said to con­tain sesame seeds, in­clud­ing the one that Natasha ate.

A com­plaint log for the com­pany from be­tween July 17 2015 and June 29 2016 showed nine cases of ses- ame-re­lated al­lergy in­ci­dents. Four of these led to cus­tomers seek­ing hospi­tal treat­ment, while an­other went to a med­i­cal cen­tre. More than a year af­ter the com­plaint, Pret changed the de­sign of a la­bel within its fridges that tells cus­tomers to ask staff for al­lergy in­for­ma­tion. Un­der EU reg­u­la­tions, food com­pa­nies are re­quired to warn cus­tomers about al­lergy risks ei­ther on signs and pack­ag­ing or orally, usu­ally mean­ing they are told to in­quire them­selves. Pret chose to de­liver al­lergy in­for­ma­tion orally and was sup­posed to have stick­ers within fridges telling cus­tomers to ask staff mem­bers for de­tails, the in­quest heard. Bri­tish Air­ways cabin crew were ques­tioned over their re­sponse af­ter the in­quest heard that the on­board de­fib­ril­la­tor was not used in­flight. Mario Ballestri, who helped ju­nior doc­tor Thomas Pearson-Jones as he per­formed CPR on Natasha, said it would have been too dan­ger­ous to get the de­vice from the other end of the air­craft when she went into car­diac ar­rest min­utes be­fore land­ing. The in­quest heard that a de­fib­ril­la­tor was used on Natasha af­ter land­ing when Nice paramedics ar­rived.

We can­not be­gin to com­pre­hend the pain her fam­ily have gone through

Natasha Ed­nanLap­er­ouse with her fa­ther Nadim

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