The deadly

Peo­ple who de­mand dairy-free food then tuck into ice cream put those with gen­uine al­ler­gies in dan­ger, writes Jane Bradley

The Scotsman - - Scottish Perspective -

Al­ler­gies are deadly. That is some­thing which has been ham­mered home in the past days: ini­tially with the heart­break­ing in­quest into the death of Natasha Ed­nan-lap­er­ouse, then with the tragic news of a sec­ond vic­tim of food bought at a branch of Pret a Manger, Celia Marsh.

Both of these deaths could have been avoided had the vic­tims been aware of what they were ac­tu­ally eat­ing. Both knew they had po­ten­tially fa­tal al­ler­gies and were said to be gen­er­ally very care­ful about what they ate.

In the case of the 15-year-old Ms Ed­nan-lap­er­ouse, who had a sesame al­lergy, the al­ler­gen was baked into the prod­uct.

As a so­ci­ety, we are not tak­ing al­ler­gies se­ri­ously enough. Ear­lier this week, the pro­fes­sional body for en­vi­ron­men­tal health work­ers warned that a loop­hole needs to be closed in or­der to pre­vent more deaths oc­cur­ring as a re­sult of poor food la­belling. Pret, they say, “did noth­ing wrong”; in­stead the reg­u­la­tions sur­round­ing food la­belling are not fit for pur­pose.

Con­sumers are also not tak­ing the is­sue se­ri­ously. It’s fun to play around at be­ing what is per­ceived as health­ier by cut­ting things out. If you don’t have an ac­tual al­lergy, stop­ping eat­ing gluten or dairy can make you feel rather smug.

For peo­ple with real al­ler­gies, how­ever, the prob­lem is acute. The tini­est trace of the al­ler­gen can cause a po­ten­tially life-threat­en­ing re­ac­tion.

In the case of Mrs Marsh, the yo­ghurt the com­pany says she ate was thought to be dairy-free. Pret al­leged the prob­lem was that the sup­plier, co­conut yo­ghurt provider Coyo, had not taken pre­cau­tions to make sure that no dairy could en­ter the man­u­fac­tur­ing process

Celia Marsh died af­ter eat­ing a su­per-veg rain­bow flat­bread bought at this branch of

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