Family of Newcastle graduate who died from nut allergy want food takeaway apps to improve

James Atkinson died in 2020 after eating a takeaway pizza that contained nuts

The family of a Newcastle graduate who died from a peanut allergy have issued a statement outlining how they want to meet with takeaway bosses to discuss consumer safety and potentially save lives.

James Atkinson died in March 2020 from a severe allergic reaction after biting into a takeaway pizza which contained nuts.

James’ family have since requested that bosses at the “big three” takeaway companies in the UK carry out reviews into customer’s safety, The Northern Echo reports.

The 23-year-old computer programming graduate used Deliveroo to order a chicken tikka masala pizza, as well as other meals to share with friends back in March 2020. Flatmates from his shared house said that James had used Google to check whether chicken tikka masala contained peanuts.

Unaware that the pizza contained a nut powder, James began eating it, before noticing there was a problem and asking his friend to get his EpiPen while he called an ambulance.

James had said he was struggling to breathe and had fallen unconscious by the time he was in the ambulance, an inquest heard. He later died in hospital, just one hour after the takeaway was delivered at his house.

His cause of death was ruled as anaphylaxis after peanut ingestion and tests showed there were no drugs or alcohol in his system that may have affected his decision making. The restaurant which James had ordered from did not say on its menus that a mixed nut powder containing as much as 99 per cent peanut was used in making its chicken tikka masala.

Following the inquest in Newcastle, James’ parents, Stuart and Jill Atkinson, read a statement paying tribute to their son, who was a “fantastic boy and lit up any room”.

They said: “We were horrified to hear evidence about exactly what went on in that kitchen and seriously question whether anyone with an allergy could ever have safely ordered food from there. James’ case has shone a light on much bigger issues that need urgent attention.”

The Deliveroo app which James ordered from asked asked customers to contact the restaurant directly if they had any allergies, however James, who was said to be careful about the food he ate, did not call the restaurant, Dadyal.

Speaking about the three major online food apps which dominate the delivery market, Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat, Mr and Mrs Atkinson continued: “The United Kingdom is home to one of the biggest online food delivery markets in the world which is estimated to be worth billions of pounds.

“Online food platforms have a major role in choosing who they partner with and how food is safely provided to customers by their partner providers. The inquest in James’ death has heard evidence that Deliveroo is not legally required to provide allergen information to customers using their app.”

James’s parents have since asked to meet the bosses of the big three “to carry out a collaborative review of what further steps can be taken to better protect consumers”.

They added: “This is not about competition or sales; this is about people’s lives.”

To prevent future deaths, coroner Karen Dilks will write to the Department of Health to urge GPs to regularly review patients who have allergies and educate them about the importance of carrying EpiPens.

The coroner will also write to the relevant authorities in support of Owen’s Law, which is calling for restaurants to state in writing the allergens their dishes include.

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