Saturday , October 1 2022

High street chains issued wrong information about fatal allergens | Society


Five of the largest restaurants in the high street and cafes gave false or misleading information about potentially lethal allergens to the customers.

Undercover journalists working for the BBC visited a host of websites where they posed as customers with allergies. They said they got wrong advice on branches of Pizza Hut, Nando's and Frankie and Bennys, as well as in the Starbucks and Costa coffee shops.

The investigation came after the recent comments of a coroner who said he would write to the government over Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who suffered from an anaphylactic reaction after eating a sandwich from Pret a Manger who had no allergy-causing advice on the cover.

The latest revelations, to be broadcast in a BBC Watchdog Live program, led to criticism from Rasel Shahid, whose sister Shahida died in 2015 after serving a chicken burger marinated in buttermilk, despite talking about restaurant staff she had a dairy allergy.

"Shahida's death was completely preventable. If the buttermilk was correctly and correctly on the menu, Shahida would still be here today, so it would be so effective it would have been just to have proper labeling," he said to the program.

The undercover reporters visited five branches of six restaurant chains and found that only Pizza Express provided clear, accurate allergen information at every opportunity.

Frankie & Benny s

At a branch, a journalist wrongly told a dish did not contain celery. At another, a reporter was asked to agree on the terms and say that the restaurant could never guarantee a dish was completely free of any allergen that prevents gluten. The co-worker told the BBC reporter the form "saves our backs".

Its parent company said it was "deeply concerned" by the BBC report. "We fully understand the need for detailed food information and take our allergens very seriously."

Costa Coffee

At one branch, the BBC reporter was wrongly told that a cocktack did not contain milk – although an employee consulted the store's allergy book.

The company said: "At this time, the team member failed to follow the correct procedure and left the wrong information. This is clearly unacceptable and we have redirected guidance and best practice to all stores."

Pizza Hut

The allergy was inseparable for the reporter and an employee as they tried to check if two dishes contained mustard or not. Each was listed as containing the ingredient online.

A spokeswoman for Pizza Hut Restaurants said, "In this specific instance, the information in the book was correct. However, we have received feedback onboard and added QR codes to our men's cards this week, which links to all our nutritional information."


A reporter has wrongly said that a burger contained no mustard before the information was corrected.

The company said that managers usually handled customers with allergies. "We are sorry that this process was not followed perfectly on this occasion. As a priority, we have reminded all our employees of the processes that are in place and their importance."


An employee said at the beginning a lemon sandwich, which has almonds in the ingredients, did not contain nuts – before it was possible there was still a risk of nutritional contamination.

Starbucks said security was top priority. "In this case, we have violated this commitment and did not meet our own high standards. We have addressed the problem of our team in the deal in question and we have been in contact with all our UK stores to strengthen our standards and expectations. "

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