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Chocolate Ice Cream

Food safety – Darcey’s story

Darcey suffered a severe allergic reaction after eating vegan ice-cream

Posted on 09 June 2022

At 15 years old, I suffered from a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction after I ate vegan chocolate ice cream at St John’s Tavern in Islington, London on Christmas Eve 2018.

My family had told the restaurant and staff members about my nut allergy on three separate occasions, before and during the meal. I received reassurance before each course that the food was safe for me to eat.

Safe in the knowledge that the vegan chocolate ice cream I had ordered was free from any allergens, I ate the dessert. Almost immediately after finishing the dessert I felt extremely unwell and was struggling to breathe. This led to my mum administering my adrenaline autoinjector at the restaurant.

My family were informed by staff soon after that the vegan chocolate ice cream contained cashew nut paste – a nut which I am highly allergic to. My family paid for the meal, minus the cost of our desserts and I was rushed straight to hospital by ambulance.

I was administered further life-saving medication at the hospital and was discharged at 11:30pm on Christmas Eve. I suffered from residual symptoms for approximately one week following the incident and was left traumatised.

What our clients say

I would certainly recommend Jennifer and Leigh Day’s food safety team to others who have been through similar allergy-related situations.

The anaphylactic reaction sadly caused me to become overly cautious when eating both inside and outside of my home. I am now wary of ordering desserts at restaurants and I often decide to avoid them entirely.

The Environmental Health Department of Islington Council investigated the incident and found significant failings by the restaurant, including a lack of adequate staff training in relation to food allergens. The restaurant was served an Improvement Notice and Caution, with measures to be implemented immediately to prevent any such incident happening again.

My father contacted Leigh Day’s Food Safety Team who were able to secure a settlement for me in relation to the life-threatening incident. He states:

"Jennifer Ellis and the team at Leigh Day led by Michelle Victor did an outstanding job for us on our daughter’s food allergy claim. Jennifer was very helpful and professional, always kept us in touch with latest developments on the case and consistently gave us excellent advice and guidance. I would certainly recommend Jennifer and Leigh Day’s food safety team to others who have been through similar allergy-related situations."