Pret A Manger found NOT guilty of food safety offence after student suffered anaphylactic shock


Pret A Manger is found NOT guilty of food safety offences after student suffered a severe allergic reaction from eating a sandwich containing sesame

  • Isobel Colnaghi went into anaphylactic shock at a Pret store in Bath, Somerset
  • A jury ruled that the employee who sold her the sandwich was to blame, not Pret
  • The employee has since left the country and has not been heard from since 2019

Pret A Manger has been found not guilty of misinforming a student who suffered an anaphylactic shock after eating a wrap.   

Isobel Colnaghi was rushed to hospital in an ambulance after being told by a staff member of the ingredients of a chickpea and mango chutney sandwich.

Her body went into shock after she took just a few bites, in a store in Bath, Somerset on November 26 2017.

The jury at Bristol Crown Court was told Ms Colnaghi checked the packaging before asking an employee whether the item contained sesame. 

Student Isobel Colnaghi suffered an anaphylactic shock after being incorrectly informed by a Pret employee at the Bath SouthGate Shopping Centre branch

Student Isobel Colnaghi suffered an anaphylactic shock after being incorrectly informed by a Pret employee at the Bath SouthGate Shopping Centre branch

The staff member, Roberto Rodriguez, is alleged to have looked at a label on the fridge where Ms Colnaghi had picked up the sandwich and told her that it did not.

He is then said to have failed to check Pret’s allergen guide, which would have flagged that the item did contain sesame.

The ex Pret A Manger employee is believed to have since left the country in and solicitors have not been able to get hold of him since 2019.

The company’s lawyer argued that it was the employee who was at fault for not following procedure, rather that the training practices of Pret itself. 

A staff member, Roberto Rodriguez, is alleged to have incorrectly informed Ms Colnaghi that the curried chickpea and mango chutney sandwich did contain any sesame

A staff member, Roberto Rodriguez, is alleged to have incorrectly informed Ms Colnaghi that the curried chickpea and mango chutney sandwich did contain any sesame

On that basis, the jury today concluded that the fast food chain is not guilty of the charge of selling food not of the substance demanded, in breach of the Food Safety Act 1990. 

Prosecuting, Kate Brunner QC told the jury that Mr Rodriguez appeared to believe he was following the company’s procedures during the incident.

She went on to say that the company’s ‘policies, documents and training were all over the place’ and argued that the company had to prove it took ‘all reasonable steps’ to ensure staff consulted the allergen guide before advising customers.

However, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, representing Pret A Manger, argued that the incident was down to the human error of Mr Rodriguez.

He said the instructions to staff on what to do when an allergen query was raised were ‘straightforward and consistent’.   

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse was just 15 when she died from eating an incorrectly labelled Pret A Manger baguette on board a flight in 2016

Dental nurse Celia Marsh, 42, died in 2017 after eating a sandwich marked as dairy free at a Pret A Manger store in Bath

Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, and dental nurse Celia Marsh, 42, both died from allergic reactions after eating Pret A Manger products incorrectly labelled or contaminated

 

A spokesperson for Pret A Manger said: ‘We welcome the court’s decision in relation to this incident in 2017.

‘At Pret we continue to do everything we can to support customers with allergies and in 2019, we became the first food-to-go business to introduce full ingredient labels on all freshly made products.

‘We remain 100% committed to the actions we set out in the Pret Allergy Plan, so that every customer has the information they need to make the right choice for them.   

‘We wish Ms Colnaghi all the best for the future.’

In the same year and also in a Bath branch, 42-year-old dental nurse Celia Marsh died after eating a wrap containing dairy that was sold as dairy-free. 

Mrs Marsh’s husband took Pret to court but had to drop the case due to a lack of evidence.

In 2016, British 15-year old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse died on board a flight to Nice from a nut allergy after eating a Pret A Manger baguette incorrectly labelled.

A new law named after her is due to come into force by this summer and requires all food businesses to include full ingredients on packaged foods.



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