A Pret a Manger baguette would seem an innocuous choice of quick bite for many, but for a 15-year-old schoolgirl, it proved ultimately fatal.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse collapsed during a flight from Heathrow to Nice on 17 July 2016 after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette bought from the main Pret a Manger shop in Terminal 5 at Heathrow airport, according to the family’s solicitors, Leigh Day.
Her father, Nadim Ednan-Laperouse administered two EpiPen injections, but Natasha, from Fulham, west London, died within hours, West London Coroner’s Court will be told on Monday (24 September).
A junior doctor who had been on the British Airways flight also administered a shot of adrenaline from a first aid kit. Natasha, a popular pupil at Lady Margaret School, a Church of England academy in Fulham, who was fond of horses and ice-skating and had an ambition to become a lawyer, was by this time unconscious later suffering a cardiac arrest. She was also given cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
The inquest will also query why the plane had not been diverted, continuing onto Nice in a flight lasting one hour and 50 minutes where it was met by French paramedics, who took Natasha to hospital. She was pronounced dead later that day.
The inquest at the west London coroner’s court will also highlight lax food labelling regulations. Foods prepared on the premises where they are sold are not required to list ingredients. The food businesses must, however, provide clear signs to explain where allergen information can be found.
Mr Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, said in a statement: “It’s a daily battle and the pain is indescribable.”
The founder of Wow Toys, whose firm manufactures child-friendly toys devoid of small parts, batteries, PVC and toxic paint said: “As a family now of three, my wife, son and I are still trying to adjust to life without our beloved girl.
“Everything we say and do is a reminder that she isn’t with us – her empty bedroom, school uniform hanging in her wardrobe, her holiday bag packed for her holiday in Nice has never been unpacked. We can’t bear to.”
A spokesperson for Pret commenting on the tragic incident said: “We were deeply saddened to hear about Natasha’s tragic death, and our heartfelt thoughts are with her family and friends.”
It is believed the sesame had been baked into the £3.45 baguette, rather than contained in seeds on its crust, said Pret.
About 1 in 100 people have an allergy to sesame protein according to an NHS guide with symptoms occuring straight after eating food containing sesame seed but can occur up to one hour later. The reaction tends to be mild and may include a rash (hives or “nettle” rash) or swelling, especially around the face.
Some children have an itchy throat; others may vomit or have diarrhoea. Severe reactions (anaphylaxis) are less common and include difficulty breathing (with wheeze or swelling in the throat), feeling faint or dizzy. People can also develop delayed skin reactions to using creams and toiletries containing sesame seed oil. There are currently no remedies.
Pret a Manger’s online statement on allergens advises customers to “check our guide regularly as recipes do change from time to time – the last thing we want is for anyone being caught out by a new take on an old favourite”.
In the most recent guide published on 6 July 2018, the fast-food chain lists the product that killed the teen at the top of the 20-page chart with a tick in the sesame column warning of its deadly allergen.
A Pret spokesperson said: “We take food allergies and how allergen information is provided to our customers extremely seriously.
“We will continue to do all that we can to assist the coroner’s inquest.”