Jamie Oliver Chain Fined After Making Celiac Sick

jamie-s-italianHave you ever eaten at a restaurant claiming to have “gluten-free” options and been terribly ill only to later discover your meal wasn’t gluten-free at all?

This has to be a celiacs worst nightmare and unfortunately it was a reality for 38 year old Kristy Richardson, from Portsmouth in the UK. Kristy was eating at one of Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurants where she told three staff members she required a gluten-free pasta dish and was assured this could be provided. Instead, she was given ordinary, wheat pasta and became violently sick for hours after eating the meal.

A legal battle followed the incident with the restaurant chain pleading guilty to selling food not of the nature, substance or quality demanded by a purchaser, a breach of the Food Safety Act. The lawyer acting for Jamie’s chain said that staff thought she had ordered a vegetarian, rather than a gluten-free and vegetarian option?!?

The chain’s lawyer said “Jamie’s Italian sincerely apologizes that it has fallen short of its food safety obligations…It takes this extremely seriously. It is a matter of very sincere regret to the company that any customer should suffer illness as a result of any meal served by us.”

New procedures and additional staff training on how to deal with allergens has now been introduced. Mrs Richardson got an out of court settlement and the chain were fined £8,000.

What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever had something similar happen? What did you do about it?


18 thoughts on “Jamie Oliver Chain Fined After Making Celiac Sick”

  1. Something similar happened at Maggiano’s to my “GF Pasta” and my dad’s. They gave him a dish of entirely wheat filled pasta and mine had a few wheat based noodles in the dish. Clearly they didn’t use a different pot, even after we had requested it and explained the severity of the situation.

    We complained and they gave us a $50 gift card. Not really what we wanted and it’s not like we would go again soon. So we ended up giving the gift card away.

    I understand that things happen and that servers may be ignorant to the importance of eating Gluten Free when it’s not a choice, but if a restaurant is going to offer “gluten free” they NEED to train their staff. It’s unacceptable.

    oh well…

  2. Its about time!!!!
    The restaurants make us sick…….say “I’m sorry”……….and their responsibility has been met.

    This is wrong. The diner doesn’t just get sick. Villi die………and they can take weeks or months to re-grow.

    Hooray for Kristy!

    Wish this would happen in the USA.

  3. While it is unfortunate that this incident occurred, lawsuits like this ultimately hurt those of us who must avoid gluten. Restaurants will take notice and decide the potential benefit in their offering gluten-free dishes isn’t worth the risk of lawsuits.

    Also — 8K pounds is, what, about $12K? For getting ill? That’s a bit much.

  4. I would be curious to read more about this case as to what all they took into consideration that caused them to settle out of court for that much money. I must say though, and maybe it’s not the same in all countries, that most restaurants do issue a warning that whle they offer gluten free food that it may become contaminated. And considering that most restaurants that offer gluten free charge extra for it, they should be responsible for making that extra effort. Maybe this is just something that needs to happen to make restaurants realize that gluten free is more than just a diet trend, that it really is a serious matter for people.

  5. The plaintiff didn’t receive 8,000 pounds, the company was fined that amount. We don’t know what the plaintiff received – perhaps a home-cooked GF meal prepared by Jamie himself and a promise from him to promote celiac awareness? We wont know what settlement they reached because it was kept private. By pushing the point with a famous chef like Mr Oliver, maybe the plaintiff’s actions will help raise awareness about the real dangers celiacs face when eating out. We can but hope.

  6. To the previous two commenters–note that the article doesn’t state how much Kristy Richardson was awarded. It says she settled out of court, but the amount is undisclosed. The 8,000 pounds mentioned was the amount Jamie’s restaurant chain was fined.

  7. I have a comment not about dining out.
    In issue #27 of Jamie Magazine, Apr/May 12, there is a recipe for Easy Spelt Pizza. It is labeled “Gluten Free”. An obvious error. There were two other recipes labeled GF that included spelt.
    As soon as I saw this, I emailed the magazine however they didn’t respond.
    To my mind, failure to reply is a failure to respect the seriousness of Gluten Intolerance/Celiac.

  8. Sadly this just happened to my daughter about a week She became very sick after eating a cupcake that was gluten free. Fully aware that there could be cross contamination issues unfortunately is a risk we all take who have Celiac Disease. It is nearly impossible to find a restaurant (at least in my area of PA) that is strictly gluten free. I know the bakery we went to was very apologetic and sympathetic to the issue. It is a daily struggle when you walk out your door to eat safely. I don’t think taking legal action is necessary.

  9. I had a similar incident at The Cheesecake Factory, recently. I ordered Tuscan chicken dish w farro in it. I had no clue as to what farro was, the waitress even checked with the chef. chef said it was a rice, i trusted them. Well a few hours later was no fun for me. I got on the Internet to see what farro was, not rice. So I called the restaurant and told the manager that Farro is a wheat not rice as stated by their chef. I will never go back again.

  10. Kelley reread it they were fined 8k and the settlement was above that but when a restaurant intentionally poisens us they should be punished and that is what occured here to me it is the same as a personal attack against us … i have been diagnosed as aa celiac for 28 years and have been lied to before i look and check tactile qualities but still have been tricked one waitress admitted she lied about the bun after i took one bite and recognised the difference she was fired for that

  11. I wish restaurants were punished and sued more often for serving food that makes you sick. It has happened to me to often and the Managers or owners don’t get it. They feel bad that they made you sick, but they have no idea how bad you feel from being sick.

  12. I have been GF for 10+ years and know how hard it was in the beginning. Even today there are still quite a few restaurants who are clueless to this, unless you are on the West Coast or Southwest. If I get to a restaurant and the wait staff is questionable I have no hard feelings in getting up and leaving. A nice chat with the owner/chef letting them know might help, but not always. After all, I am responsible for my health and wellbeing. One has a choice in restaurants/eating out. And I agree with above statement, one pays more for GF…therefore make sure you prepare it right.

  13. I have Celiac Disease and I cringed when I read this. Do you know how restaurants will respond to this type of treatment? They will ask you to leave if you tell them you need gluten free. Instead of being able to work with the manager to get a safe meal, they won’t take a chance. It is our responsibility to educate the server/manager and to make it very clear what we cannot eat, not the other way around. It is a priviledge to eat out and despite what most Americans think, everyone does not have to accomodate every single solitary dietary requirement. I think this case has served to make it more difficult to eat out not safer.

  14. Ultimately, my health is my responsibility. I realize that any time I allow someone else to prepare my food, I might get sick, whether it’s a restaurant, a party, Mom’s kitchen. I have occasionally been glutened by cross-contamination in mainstream-type restaurants. When that happens, I take that restaurant (or whole chain) off my OK list and don’t return. I also let friends who are celiacs know and post it on the Allergy Eats website. So, no, I wouldn’t sue because my health is ultimately my own responsibility, not theirs. But I’d darn well complain, let friends know, and never go there again.

  15. I ate at a Carrabbas Italian restaurant ONCE, several years ago. I ordered “Mama Mandola’s Sicilian Chicken Soup – A spicy family favorite. Request no pasta be added.” (Quoted from their menu.) I requested the soup without pasta, and felt fairly certain that my need for a 100% gluten-free meal was understood. When I received my soup, I stirred it to blend in the grated cheese on top. Good thing I did, because I found a (whole) piece of pasta in it. When I confronted the server (and the manager as well), they offered me another bowl. I politely declined and explained that since they didn’t know how the pasta got there, there was no way of knowing that it had not come from the pot, thereby contaminating the entire batch. I left the restaurant and found dinner elsewhere. I will NEVER return.

  16. I have gotten ill 3 times at Outvack Steakhouse over a year’s time. They
    Have a nice selection of gluten free meals, but clearly
    Are not trained in preparing them. You would think I would have
    Learned the first or second time, but it is a family favorite. I assure you I
    Have not been back in yeas now.

  17. I am not at all surprised at this. It does not matter if the restaurant lists “gluten free” on its menu (even without a disclaimer about cross- contamination). Most of them do not realize that frying “gluten free” french fries in oil used for everything else renders them “non gluten free.” Or that using common work surfaces in the kitchen cross contaminates. Some will boil vegetables or GF pasta in the same water as the regular pasta. I have suggested to several restaurants that they label certain items as “gluten-reduced” rather than gluten free. None have done so. I have gotten sick too many times from this kind of ignorance. The rush to jump on the GF bandwagon has led many restaurants to (inadvertently) mislead consumers – mostly because they just do not know what “gluten free” really is. Those of us with celiac disease have to ask the specific questions every single time. I think the lawsuit settlement can be seen as a wake-up call to restaurants to get it right or don’t do it at all!!

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