Awareness of food allergies has increased in the past decade, as the problem impacts more people across a broad range of settings. Food allergies are an important consideration for schools, restaurants, airlines, sports venues, corporate kitchens and any other setting where food preparation and the public converge.

The severe consequences of not paying close enough attention to food allergies was realized when a 15-year-old girl with a sesame seed allergy ate a sandwich purchased from the chain Pret A Manager at Heathrow Airport in London and died hours later of cardiac arrest on a flight to Nice.

That incident occurred in July 2016. Last month, Pret A Manager, a chain that has stores in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and globally, announced it will add more detailed information to its ingredient labels.

Lack of information can be deadly

According to reports, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse purchased the artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette because there was no mention of sesame seeds. However, sesame seeds were baked into the dough. Her father administered two EpiPen injections, but could not save his daughter’s life. Natasha’s parents have campaigned for stronger food labelling laws since their daughter’s death.

Pret A Manager did not break British law by not providing the ingredients on the sandwich label, but a British court determined the labeling on the sandwich was inadequate. Pret A Manager follows different labeling laws in the U.S.

Food allergies and the law

The Food Allergen and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 stipulates that food that contains “a major food allergen,” such as peanuts, must clearly declare its presence. Other laws that apply to food allergens and warnings differ from state to state.

New York has laws that are designed to increase safety for those with food allergies, mostly in schools and day care facilities. Many restaurants proactively warn diners of ingredients that are common among food allergen sufferers. If a party makes a restaurant employee aware of food allergies, is still served food with that ingredient and becomes seriously ill or dies as a result, legal action may be warranted.

It is wise to enlist the help of an experienced personal injury law firm if you or someone you love is becomes seriously ill after consuming food in which a provider fails to warn about ingredients that could cause problems for people with allergies.