Call for answers after Pret death
Mum, 42, suffered allergic reaction after eating wrap bought in Bath
Bath’s MP says the public is entitled to answers after a mother died in a suspected allergic reaction to a sandwich from a Pret a Manger store in the city. Wera Hobhouse said there were “a lot of questions” that surround the death of Celia Marsh, who died soon after eating a “super-veg rainbow flatbread” from Pret’s Stall Street branch in December. Pret believes the Melksham mother suffered a fatal allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in the sandwich, a supposedly dairy-free yoghurt later found to contain traces of milk protein. Mrs Hobhouse said: “My heart goes out to the family and friends of Celia Marsh, who have suffered a tragic loss. “There are a lot of questions here, answers to which are undoubtably in the public interest.” Pret A Manger has said the ‘dairyfree’ Coyo yoghurt it used in the sandwich contained traces of dairy protein. But the supplier, Planet Coconut, has described Pret’s claims as “unfounded”. Mrs Hobhouse has called for regulation of the food industry in the wake of Mrs Marsh’s death, which followed the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-laperouse from Fulham who suffered a severe allergic reaction to sesame in an unlabelled Pret baguette in 2016. “I have some serious concerns surrounding food industry regulation,” she said. “It appears the industry is incapable of regulating itself, which is evidently a matter of life and death. “Put simply, we need to know what is in our food, and the regulatory system needs to protect the public, especially those with serious allergies.” Celia died at the Royal United Hospital on December 27, 2017. Pret a Manger has promised to start trialling new labels which show full ingredients next month and to make the following changes “within the next few weeks”: ■ Prominent allergen warning stickers will be placed on all freshly made products ■ Additional allergen warning signs will be displayed in shops ■ Full ingredient information, including allergens, for all products will be available online and in shops. Pret said it withdrew all affected products as soon as it was made aware of the incident by Bath and North East Somerset Council. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it investigated supplier Coyo, which then issued an allergy alert and recalled its coconut yoghurts. However, Coyo denied it is to blame and has said the “true cause” of Celia’s death is unknown. “The claims made by Pret are unfounded,” a Coyo spokeswoman said. Pret said it had been “mis-sold” the guaranteed dairy-free yoghurt by Coyo that was discovered to contain dairy protein. The Coyo spokeswoman said: “The dairy-free product we provided to Pret in December 2017, at the time of this tragedy, is not linked to the product we recalled in February 2018. “Pret’s inability to provide us with a batch code, despite several requests, has severely limited our ability to investigate this further.” As well as withdrawing all affected products after being alerted to the incident, Pret said it ended its Coyo contract and launched legal action. “Subsequent testing by Pret and two independent authorities found that the Coyo dairy-free yoghurt contained traces of dairy protein,” a Pret spokesman added. The Food Standards Agency and Bexley council, where Coyo is based, investigated before it issued an allergy alert.
Pret a Manger in Stall Street where Celia Marsh, inset, bought the wrap to which suffered the allergic reaction