An investigation into the death of a mother of five who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to the food she bought from Pret a Manger will begin on Tuesday.
Celia Marsh, 42, a dental nurse from Melksham, Wiltshire, died on December 27, 2017 after eating super-veg rainbow flatbread at the chain’s shop in Bath, Somerset.
The wrapper contained yogurt that was supposed to be vegan, but was later found to contain traces of milk protein.
Ms. Marsh suffered from a severe dairy allergy.
Pret was accused by Bath and the North East Somerset Council of food safety problems following Ms. Marsh’s death, but the charge was later dropped due to lack of evidence.
The investigation will take place at Bristol’s Ashton Court Mansion House and is expected to last between two and three weeks. He will decide how Mrs. Marsh died.
In a pre-investigation review in August, coroner Maria Voisin said it was necessary to obtain a statement from Henry Gosling, the founder of CoYo, the Australian coconut yogurt company.
The company supplied Pret with the yogurt ingredient for the sandwich.
The Avon coroner’s court heard there was a “mismatch” between information held by CoYo and its UK distributors, Planet Coconut, about the potential for dairy contamination in its products.
Ms. Marsh’s family said they wanted answers as to why she died, and their legal representatives expressed concern about how the investigation was conducted, calling the tests on the sandwich “inadequate”.
Ms. Marsh’s husband, Andy Marsh, has filed a personal injury lawsuit in the London High Court to seek answers on what happened.
A spokesperson for Pret A Manger said: “Our deepest condolences remain with the Marsh family for their terrible loss and we are doing everything possible to support this investigation.”
He added: “After Celia Marsh’s death in 2017, charges have been filed against Pret. The indictment ended due to lack of evidence and, as a result, Pret was found not guilty.
“In recent years, Pret has established an industry-leading approach to helping customers with allergies, through the Pret Allergy Plan.
“We will continue to do everything we can to make sure every customer has the information they need to make the right choice for them.”
Ms. Marsh’s death came in the wake 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 tragedy triggered a revision of food labeling laws that now require food retailers to display the full ingredient and allergen label on every locally produced and prepackaged food for direct sale, including sandwiches, cakes and salads.
Her mother, Tanya Ednan-Laperouse, founder of the Natasha Allergy Research Foundation, supports Ms. Marsh’s family and is expected to participate in the investigation.