A TRAGIC schoolboy suffered a fatal asthma attack from a takeaway meal contaminated with peanuts, an inquest heard.
Bolton Coroner’s Court was told 12-year-old Connor Donaldson fell ill just seconds after eating food from the eatery and was pronounced dead soon after arriving at hospital in October last year.
The court was told the Astley St Mary’s RC High School pupil, of Beechwood Crescent, Tyldesley, had eaten a quantity of peanut even though his mother Sarah asked staff at the Tyldesley Tandoori for a balti not containing nuts.
Senior coroner Jennifer Leeming heard Connor’s family suspected he had a peanut allergy even though it was never formally diagnosed, because he shared several
symptoms with his mum who was also allergic to the nut.
Investigations into the takeaway by Wigan Council environmental health officers found almond powder on the premises had been bulked up and was around half peanut as it was cheaper, and a commercial balti sauce included in the dishes also possibly contained traces of nuts.
The investigation also found evidence staff at the tandoori were unaware of the full risks of cross-contamination, with spoons being used to stir multiple dishes and employees pouring substances from packets into large storage jars or drums.
Recording a verdict of accidental death, Mrs Leeming said the fatality showed the importance of educating people about just how dangerous nut allergies can be.
She said: “A very small amount of an allergen can be all that is required to cause a tragedy such as this.
“We need to make the public aware of the risks involved in purchasing food from outlets where unsealed food is sold. That includes takeaways, restaurants, cafes, and really any form of food outlet that sells food where nuts are used.
“I don’t think this is well enough understood and I know this is the message Mrs Donaldson and Connor want us to send.”
Mum Sarah told the inquest that Connor was “a normal lad, cheeky and funny” and had played football on the morning of his death, scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.
The family decided to have a takeaway in the evening, but Connor soon stopped eating the prawn balti he was sharing with mum Sarah, saying it tasted strange.
Mrs Donaldson told the court Connor complained of breathing difficulties just seconds after clearing up the plates from the meal, and his condition deteriorated rapidly with severe attacks of vomiting and CPR having to be given.
Paramedics rushed him to the Royal Bolton Hospital but he was pronounced dead soon after arriving there after going into cardiac arrest.
Mrs Donaldson said: “I just hope the inquest will raise awareness and prevent other families from suffering in this way.”
Medical examinations found peanut in Connor’s stomach and concluded he had died from a severe asthma attack which was caused by an anaphylactic reaction from eating the food.
The post mortem investigation showed around 9.8 parts peanut per million in Connor’s stomach, but as he had been vomiting this was not a good guide as to how much of the allergen he had eaten.
An investigation by Greater Manchester Police ruled out any suspicious criminal circumstances, and formal tests on samples of food from the takeaway are continuing.
Recording her verdict, Mrs Leeming said: “I would like to extend my most sincere condolences to Connor’s family. In the most desperate circumstances your concern has been to help others, right from the start, and you have my utmost admiration for your courage and selflessness.
“These tragedies should not happen to anyone and I am so sorry.”