Sesame found hidden in bread despite law to protect food allergy sufferers after Pret baguette death

Watch ITV News Meridian's James Dunham's report on whether Natasha's Law really is affecting how food is bought and sold.

An investigation has uncovered breaches of food allergy laws put in place to save lives after a young woman's tragic death.An undeclared sesame seed allergen was found in bread being sold in East Sussex, just two months after Natasha's Law was introduced to protect allergy sufferers.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died after she suffered anaphylaxis - a severe allergic reaction - to a Pret a Manger baguette which did not label sesame as an ingredient.

Thanks to her family's campaign, the law now requires all businesses that produce and package items such as bread, cakes and baguettes to label the 14 allergens.

But trading standards officers have found some businesses in Sussex and Dorset are still breaching the rules.

A family living in Surrey near Gatwick say they still feel anxious when dining out, as they worry food labelling rules are still not being followed despite the introduction of Natasha's Law.

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, collapsed on board a flight in July 2016 after eating a Pret sandwich.

It comes as East Sussex County Council launched an investigation, and sampled seven items including rolls and loaves of bread.

Its probe found:

  • Three of the bread items were not labelled correctly, and;

  • One found contained sesame seed - which was not declared as an allergen.

Richard Strawson, East Sussex Trading Standards manager, said: "Roughly one in five people in the UK suffer from food allergies and this new law is so important to protect them and given them confidence that the food they buy is safe.

"The test purchases give us an idea of the level of awareness of the new law and enable us to focus our efforts on working with and educating businesses about what is required and why.

"Our work also gives the public confidence that we are taking the legislation seriously and regularly checking to ensure businesses are doing everything they can to prevent deaths like Natasha’s from happening again."

Families living with the challenge of severe allergies say they hope food sellers and manufacturers will take Natasha's Law seriously - as it's a matter of life and death.

Zac Booker is allergic to wheat and nuts Credit:

Zac Booker is allergic to wheat and nuts and always carries adrenaline, as there have been occasions where he's been caught out.

His mother, Eleanor, said: "With Jack's allergies being wheat, it's quite difficult to avoid. We have had accidental exposure often when we're out and about in cafes and restaurants.

"There still could be an element of human error in a preparation of something. So that's why we would like to see things going forward is that people understand that allergies are very serious and life threatening.

Natasha's Law

What is it?

Announced by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2019, Natasha's law requires all food businesses to include full ingredients labelling on pre-packaged food.

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What are the allergens?

  • Celery

  • Cereals containing gluten (barley and oats)

  • Crustaceans (prawns, crabs and lobsters), 

  • Eggs

  • Fish

  • Lupin

  • Milk

  • Molluscs (mussels and oysters),

  • Mustard

  • Peanuts

  • Sesame

  • Soybeans

  • Sulphur dioxide and sulphites 

  • Tree nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pecans, pistachios and macadamia nuts)

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"We do have more confidence, but I think anybody who lives with a severe, life threatening allergy will never feel 100% confident just because within the process there could be some human error, which is purely accidental.

"You often feel when you question people in restaurants and cafes, have they got a good understanding of allergy processes and protocols? And we would always, despite Natasha's Law coming into place, still question if we don't feel confident with the responses that we get."

Zac said: "It's important that they fall in touch with law because it enables people with allergies to feel more confident and not always on high alert when they go out. It's full labelling is now required on all food known as pre-packed for direct sale.

"Natasha's Law is very helpful as anything to improve the lives of people with allergies is important. It's still it's still a bit nerve racking. If you're going into a restaurant or cafe they could still sell something with some allergens in it.

Allergens must be labelled on products made on site at supermarkets, cafes and bakeries Credit:

Local authorities in the south of England have been checking to see whether the law is being followed since it took effect two months ago.

Trading standards teams in West Berkshire carried out samples of products to see if the ingredients match those on the labels, while in Reading there were no breaches found.

Pre-packaged products off the menu

By nature big businesses such as supermarket chains have the resources to label products, but industry experts say smaller cafes and bakeries are more likely to struggle.

The British Sandwich Association says pre-packaged products are now off the menu at some places because of the risks.

  • Watch: Jim Winship from The British Sandwich Association

The Foods Standards Agency has been working with local authorities to educate businesses.

A review into the success of Natasha's Law so far will be carried out in the new year.

Food Standards Agency head of Food Hypersensitivity policy, Sushma Acharya, said:  "Natasha’s Law means the millions of people living with a food allergy, intolerance or coeliac disease can make safer choices about the food they buy. We will be evaluating how businesses have implemented the changes in the new year.

"Natasha’s law strengthens existing rules requiring businesses to provide accurate information to consumers on the 14 food allergens, by ensuring that allergen information is always present on pre-packed food labels.