Michael Gove is considering a “Natasha’s law” on food labelling after the death of a teenager who suffered an allergic reaction to a Pret A Manger sandwich.
The environment secretary said on Monday he has instructed civil servants to investigate a law change after 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s death highlighted the “importance of acting urgently”.
Natasha, from Fulham, south-west London, collapsed after eating an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette on a flight in July 2016.
The coroner at her inquest last week said she died of anaphylaxis after eating the Pret sandwich containing sesame, which she was allergic to.
On Friday the inquest into her death found the allergen information on the food packaging was “inadequate”.
Her family are campaigning for a change in the law to save lives. Her father Nadim Ednan-Laperouse has vowed to get “justice” so that “no-one else should suffer such a needless and pointless death”.
He celebrated Mr Gove’s intervention, telling Channel 4 News it is “really welcome”.
Gove earlier told ITV News the family is “absolutely right” to say the law needs to be changed, and added: “I think their case is compelling and we need to act quickly in order to ensure that we have the best possible protection in place.”
Asked if it should be named “Natasha’s law”, he replied: “I think it would be an immensely fitting and appropriate tribute to recognise the campaigning work of Natasha’s parents and to recognise that this tragic loss which has broken their hearts.”
Currently, non-prepackaged foods do not have to a have a specific allergen label attached to food.
Pret’s outlets typically have adjacent kitchens allowing for “incomplete labelling of food products”, according to Dr Richard Hyde, associate professor in law at the University of Nottingham.
Natasha was on her way with her father and her best friend to a holiday in France when she bought an artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette from a Pret a Manger at Heathrow Airport’s Terminal 5.
Unknown to Natasha and her father, who was travelling with her, the bread contained sesame seeds to which she had been severely allergic since at least the age of two.
Despite being administered with two EpiPens by her father, she lost consciousness and cabin staff were aided by a junior doctor, who had been on board, in applying CPR for the remainder of the journey.
She was declared dead at University Hospital of Nice later the same day.
Pret boss Clive Schlee said the food chain was “deeply sorry” after Coroner Dr Sean Cummings recorded a narrative conclusion at West London Coroner’s Court on Friday.
Schlee said the firm wants to see “meaningful change” come from the tragedy.