The family of an allergy sufferer who died after eating a Pret a Manger sandwich have backed a coroner’s call for a system to record severe cases of anaphylactic shock.
Celia Marsh (42), who had an acute milk allergy, ate a super vegan wrap contaminated with milk from the chain’s Bath store.
The yogurt dressing in the wrap was later found to be contaminated with traces of milk protein originating from a starch produced in a facility that handles dairy products.
Maria Voisin, senior coroner for Avon, made several recommendations in a report on preventing future deaths following an inquest into Mrs Marsh’s death, including improved reporting of anaphylaxis events and a robust system to ensure food labeling is up to date.
The report has been sent to several organisations, including the Food Standards Agency, the UK Health Security Agency, the Department of Health and Social Care, the British Retail Consortium and the Food and Drink Federation.
the investigation, which ended in Septemberheard that Mrs Marsh died on 27 December 2017 after eating the wrap.
The mother-of-five, a dental hygienist from the town of Melksham in Wiltshire, bought the wrapper at 2.08pm and within 15 minutes went into acute anaphylactic shock.
She was pronounced dead at 4 p.m.
The pack contained a coconut yoghurt dressing from the Australian brand CoYo, which was licensed for production in the UK to British firm Planet Coconut.
An ingredient in the yogurt, a starch called HG1, had become cross-contaminated with milk protein during production.
“Dear Mom and Wife”
Mrs Marsh’s family said they welcomed the publication of the coroner’s report “as the next step in our fight to make the world a safe place for allergy sufferers like our beloved mum and wife”.
They hoped that the necessary organizations will “start working together” to record fatal and near-fatal anaphylactic reactions to allow the public to be alerted to unsafe allergen products.
“This will ensure that important lessons can be learned with appropriate enforcement action,” they added.
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In the report, Voisin also emphasized his concerns about the public’s understanding of the wording used on certain foods, such as “free from” and “vegan”.
“Foods labeled in this way must be free of that allergen and there should be a robust system to confirm the absence of the relevant allergen in all ingredients and during production when such a claim is made,” she said.
“In the meantime, with respect to those with the most severe food allergies, it may be necessary to clarify that foods labeled ‘free from…’ may not be safe to consume.”
Mrs Marsh’s death followed that of the 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperousewho died in 2016 after eating a Pret baguette containing sesame seeds bought at Heathrow Airport.
Her death prompted an overhaul of food laws, which now require retailers to display full ingredient and allergen labeling on every food item made on site and prepackaged for direct sale, including sandwiches, cakes and salads.