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Food safety - ST's story

ST suffered a severe reaction after eating a fruit bowl from Pret a Manger

Posted on 09 June 2022

I first became aware of my dairy intolerance during childhood and I have pro-actively avoided all dairy products since then.

On 12th March 2019, I purchased a Coconut and Mango Bowl from a local Pret A Manger store. I had regularly purchased this item and before purchasing it for the first time, I checked Pret A Manger’s online allergen guide which confirmed that the product did not contain dairy. Having checked the allergen information, I then purchased this item on approximately six or seven occasions prior to the incident and did not experience any problems. Safe in the knowledge the product was dairy free, I began eating the product later that day, but I noticed that the product did not taste the same.

After I ate the product I suffered extensive bloating, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, persistent lethargy, and general sickness. As a result of my symptoms, I was prescribed strong anti-sickness medication which I was required to take twice daily. I am a company director and as a result of my symptoms, I was unable to work and I was issued with a certificate from my GP.

An internal investigation later confirmed that a Pret a Manger employee had incorrectly prepared the product using a dairy yoghurt rather than the dairy-free yoghurt required by the recipe. The mistake by a staff member had resulted in the product becoming contaminated with dairy. This careless exposure to dairy had a serious and detrimental impact on my health and my thriving business for several weeks.

I approached the food safety team at Leigh Day, led by Michelle Victor, to pursue a civil claim on my behalf. Angela Bruno from the food safety team represented me and successfully recovered damages from Pret a Manger to compensate her for her terrible ordeal.