Parents have filed a lawsuit against Panera after an incident with their 6-year-old child with a severe peanut allergy received a sandwich with peanut butter.

In late January, the Russo family purchased food from Panera in Natick, Massachucets. The child’s mother decided to use the online ordering system where she noted twice in the order that her daughter had a peanut allergy. After the girl’s father came home from work, her parents were shocked to find their daughter had ingested peanut butter from the grilled cheese sandwich from Panera.

Once her parents realized this, they quickly called their pediatrician, but she was not showing any serious symptoms at the time. The girl was given Benadryl, but soon after starting vomiting. The pediatrician then advised the parents to rush their daughter to the hospital. The girl was taken to Newton-Wellesley Hospital where she was treated overnight after hives appeared over her body.

The Russo parents contacted the Natick location’s manager who told the girl’s father that a “language” issue was to blame. When the employee saw “peanut” in the order they thought it meant to add peanut butter to the sandwich. This was due to the employee knowing little English.

A similar incident occurred less than a month after the Russo family incident in a nearby location in Wayland. The court complaint says the restaurant “engaged in unfair engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by adding peanut butter to the plaintiff’s grilled cheese sandwich knowing that [she] has a life-threatening peanut allergy.” Mitchell Roberts, an operating partner of Panera Restaurants, was surprised of the two incidents that occurred in two different locations.

The Panera website does have an advisory on the site that says, “Please note that we cannot guarantee that any of our menu items are free of allergens because we use shared equipment and handle common allergens throughout our supply chain and bakery-cafe.” The Russo’s attorney argues that the advisory is concerning cross contamination and this incident involved a lot of peanut butter.

The incident at the Wayland location gained some criticism towards the parents for allowing their child out to eat. Advocates say there is a growing trend of “food allergy bullying”.

Featured Image via Flickr/Mike Mozart

Uncategorized