An investigation into manslaughter has been initiated following the tragic death of a 20-year-old woman with a dairy allergy who consumed a tiramisu dessert made with milk. The incident occurred on January 26 last year at a fast-food restaurant in Milan, where Anna Bellisario and her boyfriend were dining. Regrettably, Ms Bellisario experienced an anaphylactic shock and passed away on February 5 while at San Raffaele Hospital.
The investigation has targeted the two women operating the pastry shop that supplied the restaurant. According to reports in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, preliminary findings indicate that the pair may have mistakenly interchanged the invoices for vegan sweets and desserts containing milk.
It is alleged that the company failed to maintain proper separation between the two production lines in their pastry shop, which supplied Tiramisu vegan products to 63 Italian restaurants. Prosecutors Tiziana Siciliano and Luca Gaglio, alongside investigating judge Fiammetta Modica, conducted a reconstruction of events based partly on wiretaps, revealing concerning aspects of negligence. Consequently, the mother-daughter owners of the laboratory were banned from engaging in any entrepreneurial activities related to their business.
The investigation suggests that the tragedy could have been avoided if adequate measures had been taken, including proper ingredient separation and more comprehensive staff training instead of the brief four-hour course offered.
When Ms Bellisario ordered the tiramisu, she thoroughly checked the label. She sought further information due to her severe milk allergy. Assured by the restaurant staff, she began consuming the dessert. However, after just a couple of spoonfuls, she felt unwell, rushed to the restroom to vomit, and administered her asthma medication and cortisone. Tragically, she lost consciousness shortly afterwards and eventually succumbed in the hospital.
Ms Bellisario, a fashion design student, frequented the restaurant due to her allergies, which included both milk and egg sensitivities. Furthermore, traces of milk protein were discovered in other Tiramisu Mascherpa products from the same brand. Traces of egg were identified in the mayonnaise of the supposedly vegan sandwich that Ms. Bellisario had as her main dish in the restaurant.
As a result, the Ministry of Health withdrew the Tiramisu Mascherpa product from the market on February 6 last year due to the potential presence of undisclosed milk proteins.
This tragedy underscores the importance of stringent food labelling practices and maintaining a clear separation between ingredients in food production to prevent severe allergic reactions.