Call for an­swers af­ter Pret death

Mum, 42, suf­fered al­ler­gic re­ac­tion af­ter eat­ing wrap bought in Bath

Bath Chronicle - - FRONT PAGE - Amanda Cameron Se­nior re­porter @Aman­das­cameron | 01225 322204 amanda.cameron@reach­

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

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