Pret A Manger CEO Clive Schlee this morning vowed the chain would make imminent changes to the way it lists allergens in its stores following an inquest into the tragic death of a teenager who died after eating a baguette.
15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse passed away in hospital after consuming a sandwich that contained sesame seeds, purchased from a Pret branch at Heathrow Airport before boarding a flight to France.
Commenting publicly for the first time since details of the inquest were reported throughout the national media last week, Mr Sclee said: “We are deeply sorry for the loss of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died after eating a Pret baguette containing sesame. I said we would learn from this tragedy and ensure meaningful changes result from it.
“In the last two years, we have been improving our allergen information. We now display declarable allergens for our freshly made products on shelf tickets in front of each item. We also have signs in our fridges, on product packaging, and at till points advising customers with allergies to speak with a Manager to see our Allergen Guide.”
Mr Schlee said the chain – which operates more than 500 stores – “recognises there is much more we can do”.
He added: “We will start trialling new labels which show full ingredients, including allergens, on packaging from next month. This will be rolled out to all UK shops as quickly as possible. Pret is also committed to working with others, including the government, regulatory authorities, charity groups and industry peers to secure legislative changes to better protect people with allergies.”
In the meantime, Mr Schlee promised that customers would notice a series of “changes” to its stores within the next few weeks.
This includes the placement of prominent allergen warning stickers on all freshly made products and the display of additional allergen warning signs in shops. Full ingredient information, including allergens, for all products will also be available online and in shops, he confirmed.
“I hope this sets us on course to drive change in the industry and ensure customers with allergies are as protected and informed as possible. Nothing is more important to Pret right now,” Mr Schlee said.