A new law designed to protect allergy sufferers from harm has come into force – and the mum of the 15-year-old Fulham girl whose death prompted change says her daughter would be proud.
Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, then a pupil at Lady Margaret School, Parsons Green, died in the summer of 2016 after eating a Pret a Manger baguette before boarding a holiday flight at Heathrow.
Both Natasha and her dad Nadim had checked the label carefully because of her severe allergy to milk, eggs and sesame seeds... but a loophole in the law meant the ingredient list was incomplete. The artichoke, olive and tapenade baguette had sesame seeds baked into the dough, but the label didn’t mention that.
Despite having adrenaline shots from two EpiPens on the flight, Natasha was declared dead at a Nice hospital.
Now the legislation has changed, forcing firms to list ALL ingredients in their food, extending the rules to cover freshly baked sandwiches, cakes and salads. Mum Tanya said: “Natasha would be very proud.”
A charity set up by Nadim and Tanya, who live off Lillie Road, is now planning pioneering research projects to help eradicate allergies, to continue its campaigning role and to raise awareness across society.
Natasha, Fulham born and bred, had been working towards a career in human rights and combating injustice, with Lady Margaret School setting up an annual creative writing competition to mark one of her real strengths.
The Ednan-Laperouses have also helped Hammersmith & Fulham Council to develop new safety policy. It was prompted by three-fold increase in hospital admissions caused by food allergies over the last 20 years in the UK.
Both the Ednan-Laperouses were made OBEs to recognise their charitable work in raising awareness of the allergic risks affecting up to three million people in the UK… work which has produced Natasha’s Law.
The issue of inadequate labelling for takeaway food was highlighted at the 2018 inquest into Natasha’s death.
“This is about saving lives, and it marks a major milestone in our campaign to support people in this country with food allergies,” said Nadim. “This brings greater transparency about the foods people are buying and eating. And it will give people with food allergies confidence when they are buying pre-packaged food for direct sale.”
Emily Miles, chief executive of the Food Standards Agency, added: “If these changes can prevent further tragic deaths such as Natasha’s, that can only be a positive thing.”
Mum Tanya said: “Natasha was always extremely careful to check the food labels, and until that terrible day in 2016 hadn’t had a severe allergic reaction for over nine years.
“Nothing can bring Natasha back, and we have to live with that reality every day. But we know in our hearts that Natasha would be very proud that a new law in her name will help to protect others.
“She was a very public-spirited young woman. She wanted to make a difference, so this feels like a fitting tribute.”
The Ednan-Laperouses, who set up the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation two years ago, now want an Allergy Tsar appointed, to act as a champion for sufferers and to work towards more joined-up healthcare. They are urging people to sign a petition in support – sign here.
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