Inquest Called into Second Allergy Death Linked to Pret a Manger Chain

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News, Milk & Egg
Published: October 9, 2018
Celia Marsh. Photo: Facebook

The family of Celia Marsh, the second U.K. resident to die of anaphylaxis after eating food from sandwich chain Pret a Manger in 2017, is awaiting an inquest into her death.

The 42-year-old mother of five daughters suffered a severe allergic reaction after eating a “super-veg rainbow flatbread” from a Pret a Manger shop in Bath, England. The yogurt used in the flatbread was supposed to be dairy-free, but later turned out to contain traces of milk protein. Marsh died at the Royal United Hospital on December 27, 2017.

A date for her inquest has not been set, but the coroner’s court in Avon County confirmed to The Independent that one will take place.

Pret a Manger officials say they were told by former supplier CoYo that the yogurt used as an ingredient in the flatbread was dairy-free.

“Subsequent testing by Pret and two independent authorities found that the CoYo dairy-free yoghurt contained traces of dairy protein,” the sandwich chain said in a statement. “This is believed to have resulted in the tragic death of a customer from an allergic reaction in December 2017.”

CoYo, however, disputes that its product is to blame in Marsh’s death. In February, CoYo issued a recall of its yogurt after it was found to contain dairy. But a spokesperson told The Guardian that the “dairy-free product we provided to Pret in December 2017, at the time of this tragedy, is not linked to the product we recalled in February 2018.” It further said Pret had failed to provide batch codes, so that CoYo could investigate which product had been used in Celia Marsh’s sandwich.

This will be the second inquest involving Pret a Manger. In September, a British coroner found that the failure to label a baguette for sesame led to the July 2016 death of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, who was sesame-allergic. During that inquest, Pret was also found to have documented a total of 21 allergic reactions to its food in the year before Natasha died.

The family of Marsh, a dental nurse, is demanding answers into her “sudden and unexpected death,” according to a statement they released on Monday. “We miss her greatly and we just want the answers to why she died after eating lunch with her family.”

After her baguette, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse suffered anaphylaxis and collapsed aboard a British Airways flight; she later died in hospital. Since Natasha’s inquest, Pret a Manger has promised to make major changes to the way it labels fresh food in its shops across the globe.

Read about the full findings of Natasha’s inquest here, and about changes Pret is making in its shops here.