A student who was allergic to dairy products died after eating a chicken burger marinated in buttermilk at a restaurant, an inquest heard.
Shahida Shahid, 18, was ‘very good at being vocal’ when telling restaurant staff what she could and could not eat, according to her family.
But she collapsed shortly after eating the meal. A friend administered Shahida’s Epi-Pen, which delivers a shot of adrenaline to combat an allergic reaction, and she was taken to hospital. However, she had suffered ‘irreversible and unsurvivable’ brain damage and died three days later.
Her elder sister, a GP, told the hearing that Shahida ‘wouldn’t unnecessarily take risks’ when ordering food while she was eating out, and would leave if she was not happy that staff were taking her seriously.
Shahida, from Worsley, near Manchester, was in her first year studying maths at Manchester University. In January 2015, she went out for a meal with friends at Almost Famous in Manchester city centre. The restaurant chain specialises in burgers.
Sally Hadfield, assistant deputy coroner for Manchester, told the inquest jury it would hear evidence that Shahida ‘gave a description of her allergies’ when she ordered her food.
Shahida, a Manchester United season ticket holder, did not initially feel ill but collapsed while walking across the city centre to the PrintWorks entertainment complex, Manchester Coroner’s Court heard. Jurors were told that one of the questions they would have to consider was how she came to eat a chicken burger that had been marinated in buttermilk.
Dr Sharmin Shahid, a GP in Bristol, told the inquest Shahida had twice before been hospitalised with allergic reactions after inadvertently eating dairy produce but on each occasion had recovered.
Dr Shahid said her sister developed eczema and asthma as a child and had allergies to food including dairy products, eggs, fish and nuts.
When she was younger, she would react with a flare-up of her eczema if she ate food to which she was allergic, but later she started to become physically sick.
Dr Shahid said, however, that her sister adopted a dairy-free diet and was otherwise able to live normally, mostly choosing chicken dishes when eating out because these could usually be eaten safely.
When dining out as a family they would always ‘double check’ that waiters had heard when Shahida warned them about their allergies and would sometimes even taste her food for her. ‘I know that she was very good at being vocal at restaurants,’ said Dr Shahid.
‘She wouldn’t unnecessarily take risks. If she was told a restaurant couldn’t guarantee food would not contain the allergens she would leave.’
The inquest continues.