The maker of the supposedly dairy-free yogurt used in Pret a Manger vegan wrap broke down in tears as she spoke to the investigation into the death of a severely allergic woman.
Celia Marsh, 42 years old He collapsed in the street, unable to breatheafter she ate flatbread labeled vegan from the sandwich chain store in Bath, Somerset, on December 27, 2017.
The wrap contained yogurt that was supposed to be vegan, but was later found to contain traces of dairy protein.
Mrs. Marsh’s death came on the heels of Mrs. Marsh’s death 15-year-old Natasha Adnan Labroswho died in 2016 after eating a baguette containing sesame seeds.
Avon Coroner’s Court heard that the yogurt was produced by Planet Coconut, the UK manufacturer and distributor of products developed by Australia-based yogurt company CoYo.
Bethany Eaton, managing director of Planet Coconut, wept as she testified at the mother-of-five investigation Thursday.
She told the hearing that she created Planet Coconut with her husband in 2011 to manufacture dairy-free products and purchased a license from CoYo founder Henry Gosling for exclusive UK rights.
The court heard that Planet Coconut Yogurt contains very few ingredients – principally Tate & Lyle plc’s “HG1” coconut cream and starch.
Starch has been identified as a potential source of contamination.
Ms Eaton said: “Dairy-free is something I’m excited about and that’s why we purchased the CoYo license.
“I never dreamed it would contain dairy after[Henry Gosling]sold me a license.
“He said it was made in an allergen-free environment. He had a very good relationship with Tate & Lyle
“That was the reassurance he gave me and I respect that.”
Maria Voisin, Avon’s chief coroner, asked Eaton if she was considering a starch test.
She replied, “We’ve never tested the product because I was reassured and thought it was made in an allergen-free environment.
“I’ve been told there is a separate line or facility that is completely allergen-free and that’s what we rely on.”
The witness said that since Ms Marsh’s death, all products are now being tested, regardless of the source.
“I am angry and upset”
Mrs. Eaton began to cry while questioning attorney Jeremy Hyam K. C, who represents Mrs. Marsh’s family.
“I’m a little angry and upset about this,” she said, fighting back tears.
“Not only did I rely on his word, I relied on the fact that I had been sold a license for a dairy-free product that was manufactured by Tate & Lyle using CoYo and made a very popular dairy-free yogurt product in Australia.”
The investigation was also heard from Jay Meiken, Pret a Manger’s interim managing director, who expressed his “deep sadness” to Ms. Marsh’s family over their loss.
“If we had known that they contained dairy products, we would not have used them at all,” he said.
He said all products are now labeled with ingredients and that Pret has provided allergen risk assessments.