- A coroner in the UK said Pret A Manger was “inadequate” in labelling allergens in its products after a girl died from an allergic reaction to a baguette.
- Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died of an anaphylactic shock on a plane from London to Nice in 2016 after eating a sandwich that contained sesame.
- Sesame was not listed as an allergen on the sandwich’s packaging at the time.
- The coroner said Ednan-Laperouse was “reassured” by its absence from the packaging before she ate the sandwich.
- Pret A Manger says they are “deeply sorry” and “will learn from this.”
Pret A Manger has been blamed for its “inadequate” labelling of allergens in its food after a teenage girl died from an allergic reaction to a baguette.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who had numerous allergies, went into cardiac arrest and died after eating the chain’s baguette sandwich with artichoke, olive, and tapenade in July 2016. She was 15.
An inquest in the UK, where Ednan-Laperouse bought the baguette, concluded Friday that Pret had not properly warned her of what she was about to eat.
The baguette contained sesame seeds – to which Ednan-Laperouse was allergic – but it was not labelled on the sandwich’s packaging, the BBC reported.
Ednan-Laperouse bought the sandwich at Heathrow Airport before flying to France on summer holiday. She collapsed about 20 minutes into the flight, went into cardiac arrest, and died within hours.
A video published by The Telegraph showed Ednan-Laperouse on her flight to France shortly before her death.
A coroner’s court in London found on Friday that the teen died of anaphylaxis – a serious reaction to a trigger, like an allergy. It’s also known as an anaphylactic shock.
The coroner, Dr Sean Cummings, said that Pret A Manger’s allergy labelling was “inadequate,” ITV News reported.
He added: “There was no specific allergen information on the baguette packaging or on the (food display cabinet) and Natasha was reassured by that.”
British coroner courts aim to determine the cause of a person’s death, but do not attribute responsibility.
Earlier in the week the coroner heard that Pret A Manger received nine complaints of sesame-related allergy incidents in 2015, including six involving its baguettes, but did not list it as an ingredient on product-shelf tickets.
Business Insider understands that at the time of Ednan-Laperouse’s death, Pret A Manager had been in the process of making allergen information clearer to customers. The chain now lists all allergens, including sesame, on product-shelf tickets in the UK.
UK food-labelling regulations do not require restaurants that make and package food onsite, like Pret A Manger, to label allergen information on each individual product, according to the BBC.
But Cummings said earlier this week, as cited by ITV News: “It seems a little strange a local sandwich shop could benefit from that regulation but an organisation that sells 218 million items [a year] should also benefit from that regulation.”
Cumming said on Friday that he would write a report to the UK government on his concerns about allergen labelling laws, ITV News reported.
Ednan-Laperouse’s father, Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, said earlier this week his daughter foamed at the mouth and said she couldn’t breathe during the reaction which killed her, according to Sky News.
Those symptoms persisted even after he administered two EpiPen shots to his daughter and a doctor performed CPR for her throughout the flight, Nadim Ednan-Laperouse said.
The Ednan-Laperouse family said on Friday that food labelling laws were “playing Russian roulette with our daughter’s life.”
“Our beloved daughter died in a tragedy that should never have happened and we believe that this inquest has shown that she died because of inadequate food labelling laws,” they said in a statement on Friday.
“It feels to us that if Pret A Manger were following the law, then the law was playing Russian roulette with our daughter’s life. It’s clear that the food labelling laws as they stand today are not fit for purpose and it is now time to change the law.
Clive Schlee, the chief executive of Pret A Manger, said in a statement to Business Insider:
“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.”
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