An inquest is currently taking place following reports that sandwich chain Pret A Manger failed to label its ‘artisan baguette’ as containing sesame seeds, leading to the death of a 15-year-old girl.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse reacted to the sesame in the outlet’s baguette which she bought at Heathrow Airport before flying to France in July 2016.
The teenager, who is said to have suffered from numerous allergies, bought the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette from a Pret branch at the airport’s Terminal 5.
According to a complaint log for the company seen by the BBC, there were nine cases of sesame-related allergy incidents involving Pret A Manger in the year before Natasha died, including six that concerned ‘artisan baguettes’.
Natasha’s father Nadim Ednan-Laperouse claims there was no label on the fridge the day his daughter died that showed the allergy information.
Sesame is one of 14 allergens that consumers must be made aware of when it is used as an ingredient in food products, according to EU Regulations.
However, the EU rules state that individual member states are responsible for deciding on how information about non pre-packaged food is provided to the customer.
The UK’s Food Regulations 2014 allow freshly handmade, non-pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled.
Pret is said to have confirmed that at the time of Natasha’s death, products would not have been individually labelled with allergen or ingredient information, and that this was within regulations.
Pret states there were signs in the fridge and at till points, telling consumers with allergies to speak to a manager for advice or to see its allergen guide.
However various media outlets have suggested Pret’s approach lacked consistency, as it labelled some products ‘gluten free’ and offered ingredient outlines on fridge shelves.
A Pret A Manger representative has told the media that the company’s allergen policy has since been changed.
The inquest is expected to last until Friday.
A spokesperson for Pret A Manger told Food Management Today: “We were deeply saddened to hear about Natasha’s tragic death, and our heartfelt thoughts are with her family and friends.
“We take food allergies and how allergen information is provided to our customers extremely seriously. We will continue to do all that we can to assist the Coroner’s inquest.”
Pret also confirmed that before Natasha’s death, it had started to make enhancements to allergen information provided to its customers and the design of the signage.
They confirm that all product shelf tickets now identify if the product contains any of the 14 declarable allergens.