JAMIE Oliver’s Portsmouth restaurant has been fined £8,500 after it served pasta containing wheat to a coeliac which caused her to potentially lose out on a life-saving transplant.
Kristy Richardson has the condition – which means she cannot eat wheat – and an illness that means she needs a heart and lung transplant.
But the sickness brought on by eating the food meant she was temporarily removed from the organ donor register.
Kristy will never know if during that time she missed the chance for life-saving surgery.
The mix-up between a waitress and chef at Jamie’s Italian in Gunwharf Quays meant the 38-year-old was served a vegetarian meal and not a gluten-free meal as she had requested.
Ms Richardson, from Milton, was at the restaurant on November 17, 2011 to celebrate her wedding anniversary with her husband. Since the incident, the couple have now divorced.
Jamie’s Italian appeared at Fareham Magistrates’ Court yesterday in a prosecution brought by Portsmouth City Council’s environmental health team.
It was charged with selling food not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by the purchaser. This was the third court appearance for the restaurant, and the first time it had pleaded guilty.
The restaurant said that it has since updated its training procedures and updated its communication process as a result of this incident.
District Judge Anthony Calloway ordered Jamie’s Italian to pay costs of £9,212.10 as well as a fine of £8,500.
A statement from Jamie’s Italian said: ‘Jamie’s Italian Portsmouth is very sorry for the incident which resulted in Ms Richardson’s sickness.
‘Jamie’s Italian serves thousands of meals every day, many of them to people who have clearly explained their allergies and food intolerances but on this occasion it seems a miscommunication occurred and we have apologised to the customer.
‘Our restaurant has a system for recording orders and trains staff to ensure that meals are carefully prepared for our customers with allergies.
‘The incident in Portsmouth in 2011 is an extreme rarity for the Jamie’s Italian collection of restaurants; in fact the only such case in five years across 32 restaurants.’
Ms Richardson is on the organ donor register for a double lung transplant, and at the time of the meal was on the heart transplant list, after developing pulmonary hypertension during pregnancy.
MEAL WAS SECOND TIME OUT SINCE GIVING BIRTH
WHAT was meant to be a romantic evening out ended up with disastrous consequences, a friend of Ms Richardson has told The News.
The friend, who did not want to be named, said: ‘This was only the second time that Kristy had been out with her husband since giving birth.
‘It was an awful time for them, with Kristy being told she had a terminal illness and having to look after a baby.
‘They wanted to have a quiet meal to celebrate after a tough couple of years and it all went wrong. They quite literally ruined her life.’
Ms Richardson had given birth to her daughter, Eleanor, in December 2009. Eleanor was 10 weeks premature and was delivered by caesarean.
Ms Richardson had also been diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension, a potentially life-threatening condition.
With Eleanor in childcare, the couple had taken a rare moment to relax with a meal and a cinema visit.
The friend said: ‘Kristy had been so ill. She has been a coeliac since her teens so she knew not to eat pasta.
‘She asked three times for gluten-free pasta and they served it her anyway.’
Ms Richardson declined to speak to The News because of a legal agreement drawn up as part of her out-of-court settlement with Jamie’s Italian. This figure was not discussed in court but was taken into account by the judge.
MEDICAL CONDITIONS AFFECT WHAT SUFFERER CAN EAT
COELIAC disease is a digestive disorder which is triggered when a person eats gluten.
Gluten is a protein which is commonly found in wheat, barley and rye. As most flour is wheat based, coeliac sufferers have a reaction when they eat pasta or bread.
This reaction brings on vomiting and diarrhoea and can leave sufferers bed-bound with excruciating stomach pain.
After just one large portion of food, sufferers can feel the effects for up to six months.
Ms Richardson was diagnosed as a coeliac at 19.
At the time of eating at Jamie’s Italian she was also on the donor transplant list, through another condition called pulmonary hypertension, brought on through pregnancy.
Pulmonary hypertension is a serious condition which can lead to heart failure.
Ms Richardson was on the transplant list for a heart transplant, but has since improved through medication and been taken off. She still needs a double lung transplant, which is difficult to achieve as lungs can be damaged easily.
To join the organ donor register visit organdonation.nhs.uk.