Two years after teen dies from sesame seed allergy, sandwich giant still doesn't list all ingredients used in sandwiches
An inquest last week has slammed Pret-A-Manger for the 'inadequate' labeling on their products have, two years after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse's death from sesame seed allergy
Sandwich giant Pret-A-Manger, whose sandwich was the cause of a 15-year-old girl dying from sesame seed allergy over two years ago, has still not fully listed all the ingredients that it uses in its sandwiches. The teen, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, was on a British Airways flight to Nice, France, with her father Nadim and her best friend when she suddenly went into anaphylactic shock after consuming an artichoke, olive, and tapenade baguette.
The girl died in a hospital hundreds of miles from her home. An inquest that took place at the West London Coroner's Court last week slammed the sandwich company for the "inadequate" labeling on their products. Natasha's devastated family has come forward and said that the girl had been "reassured" by the lack of any specific information of the allergen on the packaging.
She bought the sandwich at a Pret-A-Manger outlet in Heathrow's terminal 5, The Sun reported. One legal loophole that exists allows sandwiches that have been assembled individually in the store to skip allergen information and list only the ingredients.
Ever since the teen died and shortly before the inquest took place, the company had updated all the allergy information for its products on the shelves but the packaging for the products themselves still don't have a full ingredient list.
Only half-a-mile away from where the teen lived with her parents and younger brother in West London, the Pret-A-Manger branch on Fulham Broadway still has the toasted baguettes filled with artichoke and olive on sale. The new sandwich has similar ingredients and still uses the same sesame seed bread as the one that ended up killing Natasha. The packaging also says that it is an "Artichoke and Mozzarella Toasted Baguette".
The description on the label stuck to the fridge shelf states: "A veggie classic containing slices of mozzarella, grilled artichoke hearts, roasted tomatoes, Kalamata olives, Italian cheese, and fresh basil leaves. Served in our stone baked baguette and ready to be toasted."
Even though the packaging still does not have the full list of ingredients, there is a warning on the back now that reads: "If you have any allergies, please ask. All our food is handmade in our busy kitchens so we can't guarantee it's suitable for those with allergies."
A spokesperson for the sandwich giant has said: "We have heard everything the Coroner and Natasha's family have said and we are committed to leading the changes required across our industry. Pret has always operated in accordance with UK laws relating to food labeling. Clearly, these laws are inadequate for severe allergy sufferers."
The company website states: "Since almost all Pret products are made fresh each day, our nutritional values and weight per pack are only averages. We always indicate when a product does contain an allergen as an ingredient, but please be aware we use multiple ingredients in our kitchens and therefore cannot guarantee that our food is completely free of any allergen."
"Society has to take it much more seriously.— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) October 1, 2018
“It starts with a law saying if anything is pre-packaged, allergens have to be easily on show"
Tanya Ednan-Laperouse's daughter Natasha died after eating a baguette at Pret a Manger pic.twitter.com/n1ZZMjRk6j
The company had warned customers nine times about the dangers that sesame seeds pose in their artisan baguettes only a year before the teen died of the allergic attack.
Tanya, Natasha's mother, spoke of the sandwich makers and said: "They screwed up, yes. Now they have the opportunity to do something good. They could lobby for a change to our labeling laws. We know Natasha didn’t die on our watch. She died on Pret’s watch, all thanks to the absence of two little words. If the label had listed 'sesame seeds', Natasha wouldn’t have touched it and she’d still be alive. Nadim trusted Natasha knew what to look for."
For Natasha's father, Nadim, the moment that his daughter had made the decision to pick up the sandwich has haunted him for two years now. The memory still makes him emotional and he said: "I hate myself. I blame myself. I really love my daughter, in a way that’s like one flesh. As a parent I’d die a thousand times, crucified, for her to live. I spent 15 years nurturing the most precious thing in my life. As a human being, there’s nothing more important than that. In that moment, how could it be that I failed her? I will live with that until I die, but so it is. I’m so glad it wasn’t Tanya’s watch because I don’t think she could have taken it."