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We want to meet delivery bosses, say family of man who died after eating pizza

James Atkinson died after eating a slice of pizza which had been prepared with peanuts (Atkinson family/PA)
James Atkinson died after eating a slice of pizza which had been prepared with peanuts (Atkinson family/PA)

The family of a man who died from a severe allergic reaction after he ate a slice of pizza which contained nuts have asked to meet the bosses of the UK’s three main takeaway apps to discuss consumer safety and potentially save lives.

James Atkinson, 23, used Deliveroo to order a chicken tikka masala pizza and other dishes to share with friends, but he did not know it contained peanuts to which he was allergic.

Within an hour of the food being delivered in July 2020, from the Dadyal restaurant, the Newcastle University graduate had died in hospital from anaphylaxis.

Following an inquest in Newcastle, his parents, Stuart and Jill Atkinson, from Leeds, read out a statement paying tribute to their computer programmer son who they said was a “fantastic boy and lit up any room”.

The inquest heard how the Dadyal in Howard Street, Newcastle, did not say on its menu that a mixed nut powder containing as much as 99% peanut was used in their curries.

The Deliveroo app asked customers to contact the restaurant directly if they had any allergies, but Mr Atkinson, who was said to be careful about the food he ate, did not call the Dadyal.

Flatmates from his shared house said he used Google to check if chicken tikka masala contained peanuts.

After the hearing, his parents 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 Atkinson inquest
Stuart and Jill Atkinson holding a photo of their son, James, outside the coroner’s court in Newcastle (Tom Wilkinson/PA)

“James’ case has shone a light on much bigger issues that need urgent attention.

“There are three major online food apps that dominate the delivery market: Deliveroo, Uber Eats and Just Eat.

“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.”

Mr Atkinson’s parents have 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.”

Coroner Karen Dilks returned a narrative conclusion, outlining how Mr Atkinson ordered the food on an app, that he did not contact the restaurant directly to inform them of his allergies and that he did not have an EpiPen available once he started to feel ill.

To prevent future deaths, the coroner 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.

She 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.

But Mrs Dilks will not make any recommendations to the three major food ordering apps about how they could mitigate the risks for any customers who may have an allergy.

After the hearing, solicitor Jill Paterson from Leigh Day, said: “In a world where ordering takeaways via an app is now the norm, more must be done by the operators to ensure that consumers are as safe as possible.

The Dadyal has been closed for almost two years, the inquest was told.