Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, who was allergic to sesame, died after eating a Pret baguette that didn’t list it as an ingredient
A 15-year-old girl with a severe allergy who died after eating a Pret sandwich begged her father: ‘Daddy help me, I can’t breathe’ before collapsing on a BA flight, an inquest heard today.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, fell ill within three minutes of consuming the baguette she bought at Pret’s Heathrow Terminal 5 branch, which she believed was safe to eat because sesame was not listed on the packaging.
Today Natasha’s father Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, 51, supported by her mother Tanya, 51, and brother Alex, 15, said that she ate the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette just before boarding.
Minutes later she started complaining of an itchy throat before hives broke out on her neck and midriff 20 minutes after take off.
He then gave her two doses of allergy drugs with EpiPens in the plane’s toilet as she told him: ‘Daddy help me, I can’t breathe’.
Natasha, who was flying with BA to Nice with her father and a friend, later suffered a cardiac arrest on board and died in a French hospital.
Her father today described how he called her mother and brother in the UK and put the phone to her ear so they could ‘say goodbye’ just before she passed away.
In heartbreaking evidence he also said that minutes after she died he cut off a lock of her hair and told her: ‘We would love her forever and never forget her’, the inquest at West London Coroner’s Court heard.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse said today: ‘It is the worst imaginable thing to happen as a parent’ and also described helping the French undertaker nail her coffin shut.
Natasha’s father Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, mother Tanya and brother Alex arrive at the inquest into her death where her dad described her sudden death
Natasha, 15 (pictured), died of a severe allergic reaction after she bought the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette from a shop at Heathrow Terminal 5 but was feeling ill within minutes
Pret didn’t have to list sesame on sandwich ingredients because it was made in store
Pret, one of the country’s biggest food chains, did not have to list sesame seeds as an ingredient in the £3.45 sandwich.
Pret products do not have to be individually labelled with allergen or ingredient information.
This is because Pret sandwiches are freshly prepared in store.
The loophole is supposed to free small, independent sandwich shops and cafe chains from onerous regulations applied to factory packaged foods.
Instead, signs on shelves and by tills in Pret stores tell customers with allergies to speak to a manager who is trained to give allergen advice.
Before hearing of the case, Pret had started to improve the allergen information it offers customers, but the inquest will explore whether more should be done.
Pret’s website now carries a list of allergens in its food and drinks, including highlighting sesame in the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette.
Natasha started to feel unwell shortly after take-off and red welts appeared on her skin.
Her father Nadim, the millionaire founder of the Wow Toys company, gave her two doses of allergy drugs with EpiPens in an attempt to revive her.
Natasha was placed on the floor of the plane and a junior doctor on the flight injected her with adrenaline.
The schoolgirl, who had hoped to become a lawyer, then suffered a cardiac arrest and fell unconscious.
It was met by French paramedics, who took Natasha to hospital where she was pronounced dead later that day on July 17, 2016.
Her father detailed for the hearing how he and his wife had trained Natasha from a young age to study ingredients and allergens and how they had changed their lifestyle to protect her from allergic reactions.
Natasha was severely allergic to dairy, banana, sesame seeds and nuts, the court heard.
But she boarded the British Airways flight to Nice in July 2016 and began having a severe allergic reaction after eating the baguette – which had sesame seeds embedded into the bread.
Despite taking liquid Piriton and her father administering two epipens, she died in a Nice hospital later that day.
Her father Nadim said he later found out that sesame seeds, which Natasha was allergic to, had been baked into the bread but was not labelled on the ingredient or allergens list.
In a statement read to court, the grieving father said: ‘The sandwich was impregnated with sesame seeds, not even on top of the baguette and visible to the consumer but hidden inside the dough.’
Nadim Ednan-Laperouse, pictured with wife Tanya and son Alex, is a millionaire toy tycoon
Natasha had carefully checked the baguette and only realised something was wrong when red welts started to appear on her skin
He detailed the traumatic flight with his daughter and her best friend two years ago.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse said: ‘This was a special treat for Natasha who enjoyed spending time with her best friend. This was the first and only time we have ever taken separate holidays with our children.
‘Our dinner [the night before] was typical food we could all eat and there was nothing that could have caused Natasha to have an allergic reaction some 12 hours later the following day.
On this occasion, the sesame seeds had been baked into the bread of the baguette and Natasha didn’t spot them when checking her food
‘Once we passed security we had about an hour before takeoff. We arrived at Pret A Manger just after 7am.
‘I have previously regarded them as one of the better quality and responsible food outlets.
‘Natasha chose an artichoke and olive tapenade baguette. It contained all the ingredients she loved and she could eat. As she always did she carefully read all the ingredients. She read the shelf strip and the ingredients and handed it to me to double check.
‘It was 25cm long and contained fully in the packaging and was undamaged.
‘There was no mention that sesame seeds were at all present in the baguette.
‘I checked the fridge shelf and behind the counter and there was no allergy warnings to be seen. There was no need to ask the Pret counter staff to ask for any other information. It was clear to us both that it was fine.
‘As far as I’m aware it was the first time she had eaten this.’
The inquest heard Natasha ate all of the baguette but within ‘three minutes’ complained of an itchy throat.
She took some liquid piriton and boarded the flight at around 7.30am and was said to be ‘laughing and listening to music’ with her friend as they sat in their seats.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse said: ‘After 20 minutes Natasha said her throat still felt itchy. Again she took a dose of liquid Piriton.
‘Minutes later she asked Bethany if her neck looked red. She said no, then Natasha asked me the same question.
‘It looked a tiny bit red but as if she’d been rubbing it.
‘She said she was feeling sick and asked me to stop eating my tuna baguette as the smell was making her feel worse. She went to the toilet to look at her throat.
‘At that stage I was still not concerned. 35 minutes into the flight she said she was feeling worse.
‘She showed me her midriff, I could see many hives.’
Mr Ednan-Laperouse said the welts looked like ‘jelly fish stings’ and he could see at least 20.
The baguette she bought at Pret’s Heathrow Terminal 5 branch did not have sesame listed on the ingredients, her family say
The pair went to the toilet to administer an epipen, but the first did not leave Natasha feeling any better. They then administered the second to similarly no effect.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse said: ‘Natasha said that she could not breathe and looked at me to save her. She said ‘Daddy help me, I can’t breathe’.
‘Her stomach was heaving in and out as she was trying to breath.
‘I immediately called cabin crew to get her an oxygen cyclinder and mask.’
The inquest heard a junior doctor was asked to help Natasha as she started to ‘slump forward’ and was not able to hold herself up.
A member of cabin crew was asked to hold her head up as she was laid down on the floor.
Pret CEO Clive Schlee was at West London Coroner’s Court today (pictured) to hear evidence
CPR was administered by the junior doctor and another member of cabin crew for the remainder of the flight as Natasha went into cardiac arrest.
The frantic efforts to save her lasted until the flight landed around 50 minutes after CPR was started and an hour and ten minutes after Mr Ednan-Laperouse gave Natasha the first epipen.
Mr Ednan-Laperouse said: ‘I was telling her everything was okay. Natasha was fully unconscious.’
When the flight landed, paramedics arrived but were unable to find an electrical current in Natasha’s heart to deliver a shock from the defibrillator.
The Coroner heard Natasha’s brain was damaged due to a lack of oxygen, and despite CPR her heart kept restarting and stopping.
She was taken to a hospital on the other side of Nice where Mr Ednan-Laperouse, of Fulham, west London, was told Natasha had a five per cent chance of survival.
He was told by doctors Natasha had brain damage from the lack of oxygen, major organ failure and her lungs had collapsed and ribs broken from the prolonged CPR on the plane.
More than 300 people – including her younger brother Alex, 15 – attended Natasha’s memorial service in December 2016, on what would have been her 16th birthday.
A spokesman for Pret said: ‘We were deeply saddened to hear about Natasha’s tragic death and our heartfelt thoughts are with her family.
‘We take food allergies and how allergen information is provided extremely seriously. We will continue to do all that we can to assist the inquest.’
BA said: ‘We were very sorry to hear of the death of our customer and our thoughts remain with her family.’
Mr Ednan-Laperouse, 53, from Fulham, south-west London, said yesterday: ‘As a family now of three, my wife, my son and I are still trying to adjust to life without our beloved girl. It’s a daily battle and the pain is indescribable.
‘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.’
The hearing will also assess the lifesaving measures taken by BA staff on the flight, the training they were given and the equipment they had to deal with allergic reactions.
It is expected to examine whether the aircraft should have altered course to a closer airport, such as Lyon, and what advice the pilot sought from medical experts on the ground.
The role of French paramedics when the aircraft landed is also expected to come under close scrutiny, amid questions about whether their equipment, in particular a defibrillator, was functioning.
Natasha, a keen horse-rider and a talented ice-skater, was a popular pupil at Lady Margaret School, a Church of England academy in Fulham.
She was due to spend four days in Nice before going to a Christian festival in Norfolk and a holiday in Greece during the summer break.
The inquest continues.