A married mother of five with severe dairy allergy died after eating a so-called “vegan” wrap from Pret A Manger that contained traces of milk products, a court heard Tuesday.
Celia Marsh, 42, a dental nurse from Wiltshire, England, collapsed in front of her husband and three of her daughters and died during a winter shopping trip to Bath in Dec. 2017.
During a coroner’s hearing held to determine Marsh’s cause of death, it was revealed that the super-veg rainbow wrap she had eaten included what was supposed to be vegan yogurt — but which was later found to contain traces of dairy protein.
Marsh’s family said she “religiously avoided” all dairy products after suffering a severe allergic reaction to marshmallows only seven months before her death, reported The Guardian. The very close call in May 2017 prompted her to check every food label and ask about ingredients before eating anything.
Marsh’s widower, Andy Marsh, told the Avon Coroner’s Court that his wife began to “feel a bit funny” after eating the wrap she had bought while doing some post-Christmas shopping with her family.
As the couple and their children were walking down a side street outside a Gap store, Marsh pulled out her asthma inhaler and used it a couple of times, Andy said in a statement that was read to the hearing, according to reporting by The Independent.
“I asked her if she was OK,” the husband recalled. “She said she was struggling to breathe but it may be because of the cold air.”
Andy said that Celia had initially thought she was “being silly” because the wrap she had eaten had been marked “vegan.”
“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,” the husband stated.
Moments later, Celia told her husband to call an ambulance, and then collapsed while waiting for help to arrive.
Several Good Samaritans, among them a doctor, stopped to help the dying woman, while others removed their coats and used them to keep her warm.
But a paramedic told the hearing that some shoppers were seen stepping over Celia as she was being treated.
When the ambulance arrived, the woman was taken to a nearby hospital. Her husband said he could not accompany her because he had to look after their distressed children.
“I was really in shock so it took a short time before I was able to drive up to the hospital in my car,” Andy told the hearing.
When he and his family later arrived at the hospital, they were told Celia had been pronounced dead.
Pret A Manger was charged with food safety violations in the wake of Marsh’s death, but the case was ultimately dropped due to lack of evidence.
The international sandwich shop franchise chain, which has 460 locations in the UK alone, said it would fully co-operate with Marsh’s death investigation, which is expected to last two to three weeks.