Allergy case sparks labelling regulation questions

By Aidan Fortune

- Last updated on GMT

Allergy labelling regulations for food produced on-site have been called into question by a coroner
Allergy labelling regulations for food produced on-site have been called into question by a coroner
The coroner in the inquest involving the death of a 15-year-old girl is to write to Environment Secretary Michael Gove regarding gaps in food labelling regulations.

This follows a five-day inquest at West London Coroner’s Court regarding Natasha Ednan-Laperouse who died following a flight between London and Nice on 17 July 2016 after she ate an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette bought from a Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport.

As it was produced on-site, general warnings instructing customers to consult staff were required rather than a full list of allergens, including sesame which she was allergic to.

She collapsed on the flight and despite medical attention, including the administration of two EpiPens, she went into cardiac arrest and passed away at a hospital in Nice.

The coroner in the case Dr Sean Cummings said he would be writing to Environment Secretary Michael Gove to address the gaps in food labelling regulations for large and small businesses that produce food on their premises but said that Pret was not monitoring allergens seriously.

In his official summation, Cummings said: "I was left with the impression that Pret had not addressed the fact that monitoring food allergy in a business selling more than 200 million items year was something to be taken very seriously indeed. It seems that some complaints were dealt with by customer services and some by Safety. Some were dealt with by a 'gesture of goodwill'."

The inquest took place at West London Coroner’s Court.

Pret a Manger said it was "deeply saddened​" by her death, however it is yet to respond to queries from Food Manufacture​ regarding its allergen labelling and the coroner’s statement.

The coroner's comments were supported by the chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee Neil Parish. He said: "The lack of labelling in this case has led to the tragic and avoidable death of a teenage girl. We support the Coroner in criticising the labelling in this case and hope that Environment Secretary Michael Gove will listen. It is essential that consumers be fully informed about the food that they are consuming.

"We will be monitoring Defra’s response to the call for a review of legislation covering food produced by large businesses, such as Pret A Manger. We want to see laws that protect those for whom the absence of clear information on food labels is a case of life or death."

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