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Pret A Manger failed to change allergens policy for months following teenager’s death

Since the inquest into the death of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, Pret A Manger has been in the spotlight over how it warns its customers of allergens in its food.

That spotlight is now shining a little brighter. ITV News can reveal that one year after Natasha died in 2016, from eating a baguette with sesame seeds in, another customer fell ill from eating a sandwich, also containing sesame seeds.

So, a child died in 2016 and Pret A Manger made no significant changes to their food allergen policy.

  • Tanya and Nadim Ednan-Laperouse

The parents of Natasha are shocked.

"A young person died from eating one of their products and the fact they did nothing and just let things carry on, exactly as they had before, is beyond belief, actually," her mother Tanya said.

The customer in question bought a New York deli sandwich from a Pret in north London in March 2017 which contained sesame, but it wasn't listed on the packaging.

Haringey Council confirmed to us they received a complaint, because the customer had an allergic reaction.

We don't know how serious, but frankly it doesn't matter whether it was or not.

The point is the customer wasn't aware it contained a food substance which could have been deadly.

If that wasn't enough, we've also learned a pot of muesli, containing buckwheat caused another customer to have an allergic reaction in 2017.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died after eating a Pret A Manger sandwich. Credit: Family handout

We have put this information to the food outlet and they issued this response:

We are very sorry that these two customers had allergic reactions after visiting our shops last year. We were in contact with both customers at the time to express our concern and to resolve each situation with them.

A lot has changed at Pret since these incidents and in particular, since we first learned about Natasha’s tragic death in the spring of 2017. As well as making allergen information far more visible in our shops and online, we are piloting full ingredient labelling on products to understand how and when we can roll this out nationwide.

We are determined to learn from these past incidents and have committed to ensure meaningful change happens at Pret, and across the industry. It is our absolute number one priority.

– Pret statement

So Pret is finally changing the way it sells food: ingredients will be listed on the products made on site.

You might wonder, why didn't they make such changes sooner?

The simple answer is they didn't have to.

They are within the law and abiding by all legal regulations.

But where was their moral or ethical obligation?

Natasha's father Nadim told me it's "nothing short of madness" that they didn't learn from his daughter's death and he is not alone in thinking that.

The other customer didn't die but they might well have done.

And how many other "near misses" have there been in the meantime?

Pret is now voluntarily listing its ingredients but are they only doing so after the high profile inquest into Natasha's death?

Allergen experts say Pret's move won't stop another death but it is a major step forward.

If other food outlets follow suit, and in all likelihood many will, it could be a turning point for those who suffer from severe allergies.

Natasha's parents say they hope Pret will now lead the way, and add that the world is watching Pret and I think they are absolutely right.