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Advice needed re: contaminated pizza

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  • Advice needed re: contaminated pizza

    Hi there, Iíd really appreciate some advice regarding a very poorly managed complaint to a Pizza delivery chain. Apologies in advance for the lengthy post.
    Firstly some background info...

    My daughter who is 6 (5 at time of incident) was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease a year ago, as a family we have worked tirelessly to ensure that we adhere to the strict Gluten Free diet required to help her to regain and maintain her health, growth and development. Without this diet in place her health and quality of life are severely affected. From a long term perspective failure to adhere to the diet can lead to an increased risk of developing further autoimmune disorders, infertility and stomach/bowel cancers. So you can appreciate how stringent we must be in ensuring she maintains the diet prescribed. We are members of CoeliacUk, a fantastic support network for those diagnosed and an excellent guide to navigating what has been an absolute minefield in terms of food shopping, prep, eating out etc.
    This particular pizza chain are accredited by CoeliacUk... this accreditation gives people like ourselves some peace of mind when dining out, as it should signify that staff are trained and well informed on food preparation for a person with Coeliac Disease, they should have some knowledge of the products that will trigger an autoimmune response and have procedures in place to prevent the cross contamination of foods being served.

    Therefore, reassured by recent CoeliacUk promotion, along with the GF stamp used on the pizza chainís website, I ordered a gluten free pizza. Around 20 minutes after our meal my daughter complained of stomach cramps, shortly followed by diarrhoea and vomiting. She continued to experience severe cramps through the night. These symptoms continued for just over a week, which in turn affects her sleep and concentration levels through the day. Her stools became green and oily, she was bloated and uncomfortable due to gas, suffering intermittent cramps, and unable to tolerate lactose or rich foods, just as she had been pre diagnosis, the damaged caused by this episode is unmeasurable without putting her through blood tests or biopsies, which I refuse to do again! There is no doubt in my mind that this was the result of the pizza she ate, as she had only consumed food from home that day (we are completely gluten free at home).

    I called the Restaurant directly to ask them about their practices in regard to gluten free orders and frankly they were clueless, the employee I spoke to was in many ways confused by my request, he loosely talked me through their preparation process, but explained that Ďthey had other pizzas to prepare so it was hardí. He had no knowledge of how to minimise cross contamination, or why there is a need for it, other than stating that Ďputting vegetables on was a problem because they were doing all different pizzasí and when asked about slicing the pizza - he explained that they always cut the pizza but wipe the cutter first.

    Following this conversation, I contacted their customer service team who took my details and explained that this would be escalated to a level one complaint (allergy related) and I should await a response in 3-5 days. An agent followed up on this a few days later, again expressing the seriousness of the case and asked for me to await a further response in 3-5 working days. This time elapsed and despite regularly checking the complaints dashboard I heard no more. A week later I checked the dashboard again, only to find the case had been closed, I messaged requesting someone contact me as a matter of urgency and received no response.

    I called the customer service line again and spoke to an agent who told me the case had be closed as the Restaurant were in receipt of my complaint and should have contacted me directly to seek a resolution, this failed to happen! She explained to me that as this is a delivery only store, and the chain itself did not deal with their complaints, as it is the responsibility of the Restaurant (franchise) to seek a resolution. Despite my reservations the agent talked me into raising the complaint again and waiting a further 3 days for a response which I did - as expected this time came and went and once again no contact was made. This has been going on for over a month.

    Today I emailed head their head office at 12.30pm, explaining my frustration and disappointment at the way I have been treated and that without a satisfactory resolution I would be considering taking legal advice on the matter, by 4pm the restaurant manager had called, he apologised and told me that they retrained their staff just last week and would no longer slice their pizza, and sorry it had taken so long to call me.
    I again explained it simply wasnít good enough, so was then offered Ďfree pizza - gluten free pizza too, for my family.í

    Please be honest if you feel Iím overthinking this, I simply want your advice on the matter.
    But as it stands I am so angry at the harm caused to my daughter and at the sheer ignorance of the chain itself. I just feel as though someone needs to be held to account, but am unsure of how to go about pushing for that. Your thoughts are much appreciated.

    Many thanks in advance

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  • #2
    Have you spoken to your Environmental Health Department of your local council ??


    • #3
      I asked Coeliac U.K. for you - worth putting a complaint in with them as they 'accredit' the company. The affect on your daughter sounds too extreme to have been just cross contamination.

      Replying to
      We're sorry to hear this. Please contact our Catering team directly via email at catering.feedback@coeliac.org.uk with as much information as possible so that we can look into this. Many thanks
      ďWe may not win by protesting, but if we donít protest we will lose. If we stand up to them, there is always a chance we will win.Ē Hetty Bower

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      • #4
        Drummer Boy no I hadnít thought of environmental health, Iíll get onto it, thank you!


        • #5
          Amethyst Thank you. I did cc catering feedback into my complaint email, as per the advice on their website, and a call to them was on my to do list, as I wanted to find out more about the training given to companies. Iíll contact them as soon as!

          Thank you both for the replies


          • #6
            Just to update you. I spoke with CoeliacUk this afternoon. They are going to look into the complaint for me and take it up directly with the relevant contacts at head office. I am also waiting on a call back from environmental health to discuss the incident.
            Many thanks again for pointing me in the right direction.


            • #7
              Hi there, a quick update with where Iím at with this and to see whether you think itís a lost cause or whether I should look to take this further.
              Having been in contact with CoeliacUk, the pizza store firstly told them they had dealt with the complaint a week earlier - which was untrue, I clarified this with the agent at CoeliacUK and then heard no more for a week, when I spoke to her again, she explained they had told her they would contact me directly and as that hadnít happened she would chase them again. Another week has now passed and once again I have heard no more!
              Iíve been in touch with Haveringís environmental health department, they are planning to run a test purchase in order to investigate the shops ability to serve allergen free food. Iím currently contemplating taking it to the local paper, Iím just so angry at their ignorance and disinterest at the damaged caused. I donít want to just let it go, but am I just fighting a lost cause?


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