Restaurant staff are failing to warn customers about potentially lethal allergens, an investigation reveals today.
Pizza Hut, Nando's, Frankie and Benny's, Starbucks and Costa employees gave undercover reporters unclear or incorrect information about food containing nuts, mustard or celery.
Watchdog Live staff posed as customers with allergies and asked staff if specific dishes contained one of the 14 major allergens. Just a sixth of the 30 food outlets gave the proper information – as they are required to do by law. Pizza Express was the sole chain to give accurate advice at all five of the branches visited.
The investigation follows the inquest into the death of Natasha Ednan- Laperouse, 15, who suffered an allergic reaction to sesame seeds in the dough of a Pret A Manger baguette. One reporter was assured a mince pie made with milk did not contain dairy – even after the store's allergy book was consulted.
Tony Lewis of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health said the findings were worrying. Watchdog Live presenter Steph McGovern added: 'They're relying on staff getting it right every time, and when they don't, the results can be fatal. But there's a simple solution that would save lives – printing allergy information on labels and menus.'
A spokesman for Frankie and Benny's, owned by the Restaurant Group, said: 'We are deeply concerned by the incident raised by Watchdog and have acted swiftly to reinforce our already strict procedures.'
Nando's and Costa said staff had been reminded of the safety processes already in place. Pizza Hut said it had taken the feedback on board.
Starbucks said it had addressed the issue with 'the team at the store and we have been in touch with all of our UK stores to reinforce our standards and expectations'.
Watchdog Live is on BBC One tonight at 8pm.
Pret A Manger 'determined to learn' from allergy incidents
PRET A Manger was forced to admit last night that two more customers had allergic reactions to ingredients a year after a girl died from eating sesame seeds.
Last night ITV News revealed another customer had an allergic to reaction to the seeds a year after they killed Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, 15, in 2016.
Pret then confessed to a third allergic reaction linked to muesli containing buckwheat last year.
The firm said it was 'determined to learn' from the incidents.