Food Safety - Celia's story
Celia Marsh died following an anaphylactic reaction after eating a Pret a Manger super-veg rainbow flatbread
Celia Marsh, a 42-year-old mother-of-five, suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction moments after consuming a Pret-a-Manger super-veg rainbow flatbread “contaminated” with milk.
Michelle and her team represented the family of Celia Marsh at the Inquest into her death. Celia had been diagnosed with adult-onset cow’s milk allergy and therefore religiously avoided dairy.
On 27 December 2017, Celia consumed a Pret-a-Manger super-veg rainbow flatbread. Moments later Celia died. Despite the flatbread being labelled as “dairy-free” and “vegan”, it was found to be “contaminated” with milk.
The Inquest, which occurred almost 5 years after Celia’s death, finally provided the family with answers. The evidence revealed that the source of cross-contamination was a stabilising ingredient known as “HG1” which was used in the “dairy-free yoghurt alternative” manufactured by Planet Coconut.
Planet Coconut were in possession of documents flagging the risk of cross-contamination but detrimentally, this risk was not communicated further down the supply chain to Pret-a-Manger.
The Senior Coroner has indicated that she will be writing Prevention of Future deaths reports to the Royal College of Pathologists and the Food Standards Agency to ask that they give consideration as to whether:-
- Product testing of all ingredients throughout the supply chain for “dairy-free” and/or “free-from” products should be obligatory;
- Precautionary allergen and vegan labelling is misleading;
- Anaphylaxis should become a notifiable disease;
- Public awareness of adult-onset food allergy should be improved and understanding of implications associated with total allergen avoidance;
- A dedicated anaphylaxis advice hotline should be created;
- Anaphylactic incidents should be robustly recorded; and
- Royal College of Pathologist Guidance should be updated to ensure the preservation of evidence in anaphylactic deaths.
All such measures are supported by Celia’s family and Leigh Day are working with the family to achieve changes which could help save lives.
Find out more about our food safety and allergy team
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