allergy label

MPs have backed calls for Defra to review food labelling laws following the death of a teenager who collapsed on a plane after eating a Pret a Manger baguette.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse collapsed on a British Airways flight from London to Nice in 2016 after eating an artichoke, olive & tapenade baguette she purchased at Heathrow Terminal 5.

A week-long inquest into her death heard she suffered a severe allergic reaction to sesame seeds baked into the dough, which were not included in the ingredients list on the wrapper.

Delivering his conclusions at West London Coroner’s Court today (28 September), coroner Dr Sean Cummings said Pret’s allergen labelling was “inadequate”. He vowed to write to Michael Gove questioning current regulations, which do not require businesses that prepare food on site to label individual products with allergen information.

Supporting the move, Neil Parish MP, chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, 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.”

During the inquest it emerged that Pret, which chose to deliver allergy information orally to its customers, had received six complaints about similar allergic reactions to its baguettes in the year leading up to the teenager’s death.

Speaking today, Pret a Manger CEO Clive Schlee vowed the chain would make “meaningful changes” to its operations.

“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,” he said.

“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 it does.”