A dental nurse with a severe dairy allergy died after eating a Pret a Manger wrap that was labelled as vegan but included dairy protein, an inquest has heard.
Celia Marsh, 42, collapsed in the street, unable to breathe, after she ate a super-veg rainbow flatbread from the sandwich chain’s store in Bath, Somerset, on 27 December 2017.
The wrap had contained yogurt which was supposed to be vegan but was later found to have traces of dairy protein in it.
An inquest is being held into the death of the mother-of-five, who suffered from a severe dairy allergy and “religiously avoided” all dairy products following a near-fatal allergic reaction months earlier.
Mrs Marsh had been on a post-Christmas shopping trip with her husband Andy and three of her daughters when she went into Pret to buy something to eat.
In a statement read to Avon Coroner’s Court, Mr Marsh said his wife had begun to feel “a bit funny” after eating the wrap and they decided to leave a Gap clothing store.
She had said she was “struggling to breathe” so they moved to a small side street, he added.
The court heard that Mrs Marsh, from Melksham in Wiltshire, had initially thought she was “being silly” because the sandwich had been labelled “vegan”.
Mr Marsh said: “She had her Epipen in her hand and I said to her that if she thought there was any chance she was having a reaction that she should just do it and use the pen as it doesn’t matter.
“She then said to me ‘You need to phone an ambulance’,” he added.
Mr Marsh said he called 999, by which time his wife had collapsed and was being tended to by an off-duty GP who had offered to help.
“They took Celia away in an ambulance but I had my children with me so could not go in the ambulance with her to the hospital,” Mr Marsh said.
“I was really in shock so it took a short time before I was able to drive up to the hospital in my car.
“When we arrived at the hospital we were taken into a side room and we were told that Celia had been pronounced dead at 4pm.”
Brendan Turvey, a civil servant with first aid training who went to help Mrs Marsh, said a crowd had formed in the busy street around her as she lay on the ground.
He described the scene as “disturbing” and said he saw Mr Marsh attempting to comfort his young daughter.
A number of people were said to have taken off their coats to place over Mrs Marsh to keep her warm.
However, Shawn Eyles, one of the paramedics who attended, said some shoppers continued to step over Mrs Marsh as she was being treated.
Mr Marsh and his daughters could be seen weeping during the hearing as the statements were read out.
Pret was charged with food safety failures in the wake of Mrs Marsh’s death, but the prosecution was later dropped due to lack of evidence.
The company said it would fully co-operate with the inquest, with its chief executive Pano Christou present at Tuesday’s hearing.
Interested parties at the inquest include Bath and North East Somerset Council, Australian-based coconut yogurt company CoYo, and its UK distributor, Planet Coconut.
Both firms were involved in the supply of the yogurt ingredient in the sandwich to Pret.
Mrs Marsh’s death came in the wake of that of 15-year-old Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who died in 2016 after eating a Pret baguette containing sesame seeds, bought at Heathrow Airport.
Ms Ednan-Laperouse had a sesame allergy.
The inquest into Mrs Marsh’s death is expected to last between two and three weeks.