A UK inquest into a fatal anaphylactic reaction to peanuts in a takeaway pizza that was ordered online has highlighted areas for improvement that may help to save lives in the future.
In July 2020, James Atkinson, a 23-year-old with a known peanut allergy, tragically died after consuming a chicken tikka masala pizza ordered from a local restaurant via a third-party food ordering platform. The inquest revealed that Atkinson did not note his allergy in the order. During the inquest, the restaurant’s chef testified that he would have refused the order had he been aware of the customer’s food allergy.
Post-incident inspection disclosed the use of peanut powder in the pizza, however in the restaurant’s food safety documents the allergen sections were found to be blank.
The incident underscores the broader issue of food safety and allergen management in the hospitality industry. Proper procedures, including transparent allergen disclosure for each menu item and comprehensive staff training, are crucial for customer safety. The role of online food platforms is also emphasised, stressing the need for clear allergy disclosure options and rigorous assessment of partnered restaurants for adherence to safety standards.
In her conclusion, the coroner said she would write to authorities in support of a law change that would make it mandatory for restaurants to publish food ingredients on the face of their main menu.
The aim of the inquest was to not only uncover the specifics of this incident but also contribute to improved practices in online food ordering services and restaurants. Atkinson’s parents hope that the findings will enhance recognition of allergy seriousness and drive changes to prevent similar incidents in the future.