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‘I had a sesame reaction from Pret 13 months after Natasha died’

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Avani Bansal had a reaction to sesame from a Pret salad 13 months after Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, died after eating a Pret baguette containing the seeds.

The 19-year-old economics student at the University of Nottingham writes about her shock and anger that the chain had not improved its labelling after her death.

I was shocked to hear about what happened to Natasha, because it just made me think that could have been me.

Thirteen months after she had an allergic reaction to sesame from a Pret baguette, I also had one.

In May 2017, I was at my Sunday job in Debenhams in Woking and I dashed out to grab lunch and picked up a Pret salad pot which said it was a smashed beet and feta salad.

I checked the label underneath and it said it was beetroot houmous, but didn’t say it contained sesame.

I’m always really careful about checking because I’m severely allergic to nuts – I start feeling ill if I just smell peanuts – and also sesame.

After just one bite my throat started feeling itchy and was swelling up.

I went back to work and took some piriton, but I was feeling awful so they sent me home.

I drove back and was feeling queasy all the way. As soon as I opened my car door I threw up on the drive.

I felt terrible all day and the next day, which was one of my last to revise for my final A Level exams.

Ednan-Laperouse family
Image:
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died on a BA flight after eating a Pret baguette which had sesame in. Pic: Ednan-Laperouse family

After that, I tweeted Pret to tell them what had happened and they private-messaged me and offered me a £20 Pret voucher, and said they were working to change their labelling.

It was like they were trying to pay me off. I didn’t feel like they were taking it seriously enough.

Especially considering what happened with Natasha just over a year previously, why hadn’t they already changed their labelling by that point?

At Pret I’ve found they’re usually good at putting labels up warning about nuts in something, but they’re not very good at labelling sesame.

More and more people have food allergies now, so I think places need to be very aware – some are better than others.

Pret’s labels simplify what is in the food, I don’t understand why they can’t just put all the ingredients on the label.

They say you can ask the staff, but when they are putting allergens into unusual things, like the sesame baked into the artisan baguette Natasha ate, it would be better to have it on the label.

You shouldn’t have to go through a folder to check for allergens every time you want a quick lunch.

I actually had another reaction to sesame this year at uni, after they incorrectly labelled a chorizo and houmous sandwich as a chorizo and cheese.

That time, my reaction was even worse, my whole face swelled up.

Each time you have an allergic reaction it gets worse, and I now have to carry an EpiPen at all times.

Natasha’s inquest has really made me think that next time it happens, I could have as bad a reaction as her.

Food allergies need to be taken seriously and I think it should be the law to put all the ingredients on a label, it doesn’t have to be on every item, but should at least be beneath the items.

People shouldn’t die from eating something which they would have avoided if it had been on the label.

Pret has been contacted for comment on this case.

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