Teen With Food Allergy Dies After Eating Mislabeled Sandwich

by Thea Glassman
Image via YouTube/ITV

A teen with a severe food allergy died after eating a mislabeled Pret A Manger sandwich

15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse arrived at Heathrow Airport with her father on July 17, 2016. She boarded the plane, ate an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette purchased from Pret A Manger, and had a severe allergic reaction. She died that same day in a hospital in Nice.

Now, Ednan-Laperouse’s father, Nadim, is reporting that the sandwich contained sesame seed, an ingredient that his daughter was allergic to and was left off the packaging list.

There is currently an ongoing inquest into the way Pret labels its food. Nadim’s emotional statement was read by his lawyer at West London Coroner’s Court on Monday and detailed the incredibly heartbreaking moments before his daughter’s death. He said that she complained her throat was itching and red hives formed on her stomach. Nadim quickly administrated an epipen injection.

“We waited a couple of minutes to see how she reacted,” he recalled. “She said she couldn’t breathe properly and it was getting worse and urged me to get the second epipen right away.” Nadim tried a second epipen injection but it didn’t help. “Natasha said that she still couldn’t breathe and desperately looked at me, she said ‘Daddy, help me, I can’t breathe.’”

A doctor on-board the plane performed CPR on Natasha until they landed. When it looked like he was going to lose his daughter, Nadim put her mother and brother on the phone so they could say goodbye.

Later, Nadim’s mother went back to the airport’s Pret a Manger to look at the sandwich her granddaughter had eaten. When she couldn’t find the ingredients on the label, she asked for a list of the sandwich’s information.

“My mother looked down the list and found that the baguette dough had sesame seed inside it,” Nadim said in his statement. “I was stunned that a big food company like Pret could mislabel a sandwich and this could cause my daughter to die.”

In response, a spokesperson from Pret said that its products are not labeled with allergy or ingredient information. They noted that there are signs above the shelves and by the cash registers that indicate that customers should speak to a manager about allergy concerns.

“We take food allergies and how allergen information is provided to our customers extremely seriously,” Pret’s statement read. “We will continue to do all that we can to assist the coroner’s inquest.”

The year prior to Natasha’s death, there were nine allergic reactions that occurred as a result of Pret’s mislabeling, according to The Guardian. In one incident, a 17-year-old girl collapsed after eating a sandwich that had sesame seeds in the bread dough.

The inquest into Pret’s labeling is ongoing. Meanwhile, the Ednan-Laperouse family is left to struggle with the loss of Natasha.

“Everything we say and do is a reminder that she isn’t with us – her empty bedroom, school uniform hanging in her wardrobe, her holiday bag packed for her holiday in Nice has never been unpacked. We can’t bear to,” Nadim said. “…It’s a daily battle and the pain is indescribable.”