Parents of graduate who died after reaction to peanuts want clearer labelling

A university graduate collapsed and died from an allergic reaction to peanuts just over an hour after taking two bites of a chicken tikka masala pizza.

James Atkinson, 23, and his housemates used Deliveroo to order from a restaurant he had used before, unaware that chefs had swapped an ingredient that day to a powder that contained peanuts.

Within a few seconds of biting into the pizza, from Dadyal Pizza in Newcastle, James suffered from a peanut allergy causing him to go into anaphylactic shock on July 10, 2020.

He was taken to the Royal Victoria Infirmary where he died at 9.21pm, just 71 minutes later.

His parents, Stuart and Jill, had driven from Leeds to be at his side, but were too late to say goodbye.

Ahead of a pre-inquest review into his death which opened today at Newcastle Coroner’s Court, which would've been James' 26th birthday, the couple have called for clearer displays of allergens.

His parents have started a Crowd Justice campaign to raise the funds they believe would be required to get 'Justice for James'.

In their campaign to raise £10,000 they have said: "We should be celebrating his life on this day and instead we are going to be asking questions about what happened to him that night.

"We have no words to describe how painful this will be.

"Deliveroo is a massive company and it is daunting facing them in a legal process like this.

"More and more people order food online this way and we think we need to shine a light on how this happens.

"In order to help us in this complicated legal process involving big organisations, we feel we need the very best legal representation.

"The law surrounding food information and allergies is very complicated, consisting of lots of guidance and regulation that is lengthy and confusing.

"We have instructed the legal team from law firm Leigh Day that helped Natasha Ednan-Laperouse’s family, Owen Carey’s family and Shanté Turay-Thomas’ family to give us the best chance.

"We would also like to work with a specialist barrister who has experience in high profile cases like this.

"We owe it to James’ memory to help the Senior Coroner find out whether there are any lessons to be learnt.

"If there are, we will work with other campaigners to try to make sure that other people with allergies and their families don’t have to go through what we have. "

Dadyal owner, Gulfam Ulhaq, said staff were ‘in shock’ after being told of James’ death, according to the BBC.

At the time, a cross-contamination notice on the restaurant page on Deliveroo stated that all dishes may contain traces of peanuts.

In a statement following the incident, his parents said: "He was eating dinner with a few of his flat mates in Newcastle where they lived.

"We didn’t even get to say goodbye before his heart stopped. He died alone, without his mum, dad and family with him.

"He was a clever boy; he had graduated from Newcastle University after studying computer science.

"How could this have happened to him when he was always so careful? There will always be a hole in our hearts without James."

Stuart and Jill described their son as a ‘bright and bubbly character who lived life to the full’ and ‘brightened up every room’.

The restaurant was immediately suspended from the app but remained on other food platforms, until environmental health officials confirmed it could trade again later that July.

A spokesperson for Deliveroo said: "This is a tragedy and our thoughts are with the family and friends of the young man who so sadly passed away.

"Deliveroo has been in contact with the police, who confirmed that the company has acted properly at all times, and continues to comply fully with this investigation.

"The company will cooperate in full with the coroner’s inquest and will share all information requested by the coroner.

"We are committed to doing all we possibly can to assist this investigation and our hearts go out to all those involved."

The inquest is expected to last three days.

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