Food allergies: 'I lost my best friend when she had a reaction'

Last updated at 09:14
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WATCH: Bethany's story - 'I lost my best friend when she had an allergic reaction'

Seventeen-year-old Bethany wants to raise awareness about food allergies and thinks that children should learn more about them at school.

It comes after she lost her best friend in July 2016, who died after having an allergic reaction to a baguette.

Natasha Ednan-Laperpouse was just 15 when she collapsed on a flight from London to Nice on 17 July 2016. She had eaten a baguette that she bought from Pret a Manger.

Bethany Holloway shared her story with Newsround.

'She was full of joy'
Bethany with Natasha.Bethany Holloway.
Bethany says that her best friend Natasha was "full of joy and full of life"

"Natasha and I were very close. I called her Tashi, Tash, Tashini Panini, Guacamole sometimes" says Bethany.

"We spent all our time together. We had been to primary and secondary school together. We would go shopping on Saturdays. We'd do everything together.

"She was full of joy and full of life, and she was such a funny and happy person to be around all the time."

Bethany was with Natasha when she died. They were both on a plane travelling to France for a summer holiday. Almost three years have passed and the walls in her bedroom are covered in pictures of Natasha.

"It's a real shock and it's not something you can recover from properly."

"Surrounding yourself with photos of Tash is helpful, but the real thing that can make a difference is making sure something like this doesn't happen again."

'Allergies aren't just being fussy'
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Like many children in the UK, Natasha was allergic to different types of food, but she also had severe allergies, which are not as common.

"She had lots of allergies. She was allergic to all dairy products like milk, butter and eggs. She couldn't eat chocolate or nuts and we would never share a water bottle in case it had traces of something she couldn't eat."

"When she came round for dinner, my mum would have to prepare special meals and we made sure we didn't use ingredients she was allergic to.

"It was really difficult for her. I think sometimes she felt sad that people had to always work around her, but at the same time it was so important.

"Allergies aren't just being fussy. They can be life-changing."

'If it saves one life, it's worth it'
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WATCH: How to be a good friend to someone who has an allergy

The baguette Natasha bought from Pret a Manger contained an ingredient called sesame - something to which she was extremely allergic. Sesame was not listed on the packet and a big investigation into Natasha's death found that the labelling wasn't adequate.

Pret a Manger have now changed their labelling rules and the government has set up a consultation to look at the way restaurants like this label their sandwiches and salads. The consultation ends this Friday.

Under current rules for items made in store, it is sufficient for general allergen warnings to be posted around the shop, instead of on the individual packaging for items.

Bethany wants that to change and says restaurants should put more information on the packet than just the bare minimum.

She is campaigning to make food labelling clearer. She says: "It is possible to label what ingredients you're putting into things.

"You know what's going into the food. Just put it on a piece of paper and if it saves one life, it's worth it."

'I want to make life easier for children with allergies'
Bethany alongside a picture of Natasha.Bethany Holloway
Bethany thinks that children in schools should learn about food allergies and how to help people who have them

Bethany wants schools to teach children more about the risks surrounding food allergies.

"I think it should be made compulsory that all children know what to do if someone is having an allergic reaction. So, looking for symptoms and knowing which actions to take because this could save lives."

Bethany told Newsround that she really misses Natasha and she thinks about her every day.

She wants to learn more about food allergies and hopes to turn the tragedy of losing a friend into something positive.

"One day I want to work as a scientist or come up with recipes that will help children with allergies and make their lives much easier."

Comments

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by U17597327

    26 Mar 2019 18:58
    I agree with Hope. glad I don't have allergies! because that would be scary!
  • Comment number 2. Posted by Hope

    26 Mar 2019 15:51
    Wow. It Really Brakes my heart to hear about this.

    Poor You Bethany. I hope Natasha will be in your heart forever.
  • Comment number 1. Posted by rainbowchocolateUnicorn

    26 Mar 2019 8:21
    Wow. This is so heart breaking. Poor Bethany. She’s so kind!
    🌈🍫🦄