Student died after allergic reaction to Dorset pub risotto, inquest hears

<span>Photograph: Family handout/BNPS</span>
Photograph: Family handout/BNPS

A student died after suffering an allergic reaction to sesame seed oil in a mushroom risotto she ate at a family dinner in a Dorset pub, an inquest has heard.

Georgina Mansergh, 24, was visiting the Angel Inn in Ferndown with her family on 11 February when she suffered the reaction to the oil used in the tahini sauce included in the dish. She was studying for her masters degree.

Her father, Nigel Mansergh, told a hearing in Bournemouth that his daughter had been diagnosed with an allergy to nuts when she was two years old but they later realised she also reacted to seeds.

He said Georgina, who also suffered from eczema and asthma, had previously suffered only mild reactions such as tingly lips or vomiting, and would be “embarrassed” if they raised her allergies when eating at restaurants.

Nigel Mansergh added that his daughter would avoid dishes that contained seeds or nuts but would eat those marked as “may contain nuts”.

He described how she began to suffer a reaction at the pub and had gone to vomit in the toilets after starting the dish, which prompted his wife to go to their home in the Dorset town to pick up an antihistamine.

By the time she returned, their daughter’s condition had worsened and an ambulance was called.

Nigel Mansergh said: “She collapsed on me, that was when she passed out.”

He said: “Family and members of staff were carrying out CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] until paramedics arrived. Despite their best efforts, Georgie was declared dead at the scene.”

He added: “We can’t begin to describe how devastated we and our sons are at the loss of our beautiful girl and it is difficult to comprehend that she has gone.”

Nigel Mansergh said his daughter’s reaction to the dish was “not like anything she had experienced before” and added that she was aware of what foods she should avoid “which makes this even more tragic”.

He added that she had not been advised to carry an epinephrine auto-injector because her symptoms had always previously been “mild to moderate”.

Mansergh said that his daughter was used to checking menus for allergens and added that the family did not “hold the restaurant to blame at all”.

But he suggested better signage about allergens and more prompts about allergens when reserving places and ordering food could prevent future incidents.

Describing his daughter, he said: “She had a boyfriend, had lots of friends. She was a vegan and cared greatly about the environment and animal welfare. She was very keen on health and fitness.”

James Wyer, who was general manager at the Angel Inn at the time, said the family had ordered their food in advance by email and had not given any notification of any allergies or food intolerances.

He said that staff would ask about allergies when taking reservations and orders and any meals would then be prepared separately for affected customers.

The hearing was told Dorset council trading standards did not take any action against the pub as it complied with all requirements.

The coroner, Richard Middleton, said the cause of death was acute anaphylaxis due to sesame seed allergy and recorded a verdict of accidental death.

Last year, the senior coroner for Avon, Maria Voisin, published a report suggesting that hospitals should be obliged to report fatal and near-fatal anaphylaxis. The report was welcomed by the families of two people who had died from an allergic reaction after eating food from Pret a Manger.

PA Media contributed to this report