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Allergic teen died ‘after warning’ burger bar

Tom Wall21/01/2015 - 13:00

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Shahida Shahid died at Manchester Royal Infirmary
Shahida Shahid died at Manchester Royal Infirmary

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Greater Manchester Police are investigating how an allergic teenager died after eating in a burger bar.

Eighteen-year-old Shahida Shahid is understood to have told staff at Almost Famous, central Manchester, about her food allergies on the 9th January. But Ms Shahid collapsed within an hour of leaving the restaurant and was rushed by ambulance to Manchester Royal Infirmary.

The maths student, who was allergic to a range of foods and suffered from asthma, died three days later from irreversible and unsurvivable brain damage.

Detective inspector Chris Flint told the inquest into her death at Manchester Coroner’s Court that she may have warned staff before ordering.

‘We understand, although it is not entirely clear, that she indicated to waiting staff what her allergies were and what meal would be appropriate for her. She was advised that a particular chicken dish would be appropriate and that was ordered and consumed,’ he said

He added the dish she ordered may have contained or was cooked in ingredients that caused her allergic reaction.

The regulation governing the information that businesses have to provide to people with allergies changed in December.

Under the EU Food Information for Consumers Regulation No.1169/2011 and Food Information Regulations 2014 food businesses have a legal responsibility to provide the correct allergen information about the food they prepare and serve to customers.

Coroner Nigel Meadows said Shahida’s death was a ‘timely reminder’ to the food trade.

‘The law has relatively recently changed and new regulations came into force in August and more new EU regulations in December. This case clearly serves as a timely reminder to the food industry regarding these requirements.’

Marie Carter, company director of Almost Famous said: ‘We are absolutely devastated to hear the tragic news that this young lady has passed away. Our thoughts are with her family and friends. As the authorities are conducting investigations it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.’

The FSA told EHN it was working with Manchester detectives to establish if Almost Famous complied with new legal requirements to provide accurate allergen information.

‘In relation to this particular incident, the FSA is supporting the investigations into whether the food business operator took necessary steps to comply with the rules on the provision of allergen information. This includes whether it has necessary processes and practices in place to support this,’ said a spokesperson.

The spokesperson added it assisted the police investigations when ‘food is involved’ had helped police investigate food-related deaths in the past.

The FSA has tools on its website to help food businesses comply with the new allergen rules.

‘In addition to this, the FSA has developed a toolkit to aid local authorities publicise these changes and to educate businesses on how to make necessary changes to their processes to enable them to provide accurate allergen information,’ said the spokesperson.

‘Allergen management doesn’t require much more than good food hygiene practices; but because allergens cannot be cooked out, food business also need to know what allergens are in what food component or dish and this can be achieved by clear labelling, good segregation and communication.’

The Institute of Food Safety Integrity & Protection has produced guidance for food businesses on allergens.

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