A 38-year-old woman named Kristy Richardson and her husband visited a branch of the celebrity chef’s Jamie’s Italian in Portsmouth, England, back in November of 2011 to celebrate their anniversary. Richardson, who had been diagnosed with Celiac disease when she was 19, told the restaurant’s maitre d’ and two other staff members she could not ingest gluten. Though the restaurant has a dedicated gluten-free menu, Richardson was nonetheless served regular, plain-old wheat pasta, and soon afterwards, she became “violently ill,” the Telegraph reports.
The reaction to the meal was so severe that Richardson, who had also reportedly been on a strict regimen of immunosuppressants in anticipation of a heart and lung transplant, was disqualified from the waiting list for replacement organs. The details were originally reported on a Celiac-related message board and were picked up by the Sun.
The restaurant initially claimed there had been a “mix up” with the dinner order, and eventually apologized. Last month it pleaded guilty to “selling food not of the nature and quality demanded by the purchaser,” a violation of the 2012 Food Safety Act. It will pay Richardson £8,000, or approximately $12,200, as compensation for its error. This is one of the first times such a fine has been levied against a restaurant anywhere for serving gluten to a customer with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
The lawyer representing Jamie’s Italian said the waitress “thought she ordered a vegetarian, rather than gluten-free and vegetarian option.” An apology was also part of the statement released to the press, reading in part, “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.”
As a result of the out of court settlement, it appears that Richardson will be able to comment publicly about the case, and while it appears that her account of the incident has been removed from the online message board where she was reportedly a regular poster, some details remain. It is unclear whether she received either organ transplant.