Family of James Atkinson calls for better regulation of food apps after inquest finds he died of anaphylaxis after eating a takeaway pizza which contained peanuts
The inquest into the death of James Atkinson, who died after eating a takeaway pizza, has found that he suffered an anaphylactic reaction because the pizza contained peanuts, to which he was allergic.
Posted on 15 January 2024
James had ordered the chicken tikka pizza from the local Dadyal restaurant via the Deliveroo app. The restaurant’s menu did not contain information about allergens.
In her conclusion, the Coroner, Karen Dilks supported the family’s calls for mandatory requirements for allergen information to be included on all menus. After the inquest, the Food Standards Agency also backed the family’s calls for change.
James’s family have welcomed the FSA’s moves and are calling for the big three food delivery apps to do more to ensure users are better able to evaluate the risk from food allergies
James’s parents Stuart and Jill Atkinson said:
“On 10 July 2020, our lives changed forever when our beautiful son was cruelly taken from this world. James had so much to live for, he was only 23 and had recently graduated from Newcastle University in computer science and had started a promising career as a computer programmer. He was a fantastic boy and lit up any room. We miss him very much every day.
“Today the Inquest into James’ tragic death has concluded. We would like to thank the coroner for her thorough investigation which has helped us understand what happened to our son on that terrible night. We would also like to thank our Solicitors Jill Paterson and Thomas Jervis of Leigh Day and our barrister team from Park Square Barristers for helping us seek justice for James over the last 3 years.
“James died from anaphylaxis after eating food which contained fatal amounts of hidden peanut to which he was allergic. He had ordered the food from the well-known food app, Deliveroo, which had partnered with a local restaurant called Dadyal. The Inquest heard how the restaurant had a chaotic and misinformed approach to handling food allergens. Their menu did not disclose accurate information as to the true content of the food. We were horrified to hear evidence about exactly what went on in that kitchen and seriously question whether anyone with an allergy could ever have safely ordered food from there.
“James’ case has shone a light on a much bigger issue that needs urgent attention. There are 3 major online food apps that dominate the delivery market, Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat. The United Kingdom is home to one of the biggest online food delivery markets in the world which is estimated to be worth billions of pounds.
“One in four people in the UK live with allergies and that number is on the rise. Online food platforms have a major role in choosing who they partner with and how food is safely provided to customers by their partner providers. The Inquest in James’ death has heard evidence that Deliveroo is not legally required to provide allergen information to customers using their app.
“We now take this opportunity to publicly call on the bosses of the big 3 apps; Will Shu of Deliveroo, Matthew Price of UberEats and Claire Pointon of Just Eat to meet with us to carry out a collaborative review of what further steps can be taken to better protect consumers. This is not about competition or sales; this is about people’s lives.
“James will forever be in our hearts.
“Even if the outcome of this is that one person’s life is saved, then that’s something.”
Leigh Day partner Jill Paterson, who represented the family of James Atkinson at the inquest into his death, said:
“James Atkinson was one of the 2 million food allergy sufferers in the UK. The coroner has found that he died of anaphylaxis on 10 July 2020 after consuming food from the Dadyal restaurant ordered through the Deliveroo app. James did not know that the food he ordered contained peanut to which he was allergic.
“It is clear from the evidence heard during the Inquest that the Dadyal Restaurant had a fundamental lack of understanding as to their legal duties as a food business operator and demonstrated a cavalier attitude to allergen control.
“In a world where ordering takeaways via an app is now the norm, more must be done by the operators to ensure that consumers are as safe as possible.
“We support the family’s calls for a discussion with the big 3 food apps, Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat about what they can do better to provide protection to customers with food allergies. Customers should have the ability to be confident that they know exactly what is in the food they are ordering.”
Pen portrait by James Atkinson's family.
The family are crowdfunding to fund the inquest costs.
Jill Paterson is a renowned market leader in representing people who have been harmed
Family of James Atkinson pay tribute to him on opening day of inquest into his death
The parents of 23-year-old former Newcastle University student James Atkinson read a heartfelt tribute to their son at the first day of the inquest into his death after he suffered an allergic reaction to a takeaway pizza.