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food allergies

Coroner calls for parental vigilance after 10-year-old boy dies from allergic reaction to McDonald's Peri Peri wrap

Maleek Lawal had known allergies to fish, milk (which the wrap contained) and eggs.

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A CORONER HAS issued a warning after a ten-year-old boy suffered a fatal allergic reaction to a McDonald’s chicken wrap.

Dublin Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane warned parents of children with food allergies to check ingredients at the inquest into the death of Maleek Lawal, a student at St Audeon’s National School in Dublin.

The child suffered a severe allergic reaction and died after eating a take-away meal from McDonald’s.

The boy’s mother told Dublin Coroner’s Court that he loved McDonald’s food and always asked for it as a treat.

He ate a Peri Peri chicken wrap from the fast-food restaurant’s Ilac Centre outlet on 7 October 2016. Within ten minutes he began to feel ill.

“He was a beautiful, playful boy. He loved to read. My heart is truly broken for him. I would not wish this pain of losing him on my worst enemy,” his mother Rukawat Lawal said, speaking after the inquest.

She was pregnant with Maleek when she arrived in Ireland from Nigeria seeking asylum in 2006.

He was diagnosed with asthma and eczema as a young child and was advised to avoid milk, eggs, fish and nuts.


On the day he died, Maleek’s mother had taken her three children to a barber shop after school for a haircut.

“We were homeless, with nobody helping us, we were on our own and I was looking for a way to get out of emergency accommodation. I was looking for a way to keep the children happy,” she said.

“Sometimes I felt so bad for him, so sad for him, that when he asked for something I had to give it to him.”

The mother-of-three left her sons in the barber shop at the Ilac Centre in Dublin and went with her daughter to McDonald’s where she ordered hamburgers, chicken nuggets and a Peri Peri chicken wrap.

Maleek had often eaten hamburgers and nuggets before but never the Peri Peri wrap, the court heard. His mother brought the food back to the barber shop where the children ate it.

“He ate the whole wrap. Within ten minutes he began to feel ill. He asked to go to the toilet. In the toilets he said ‘Mam I’m feeling weak, I can’t walk’,” she said.

His lips and face swelled up. His mother grabbed him and ran back into the barber shop screaming for help.

“My mind was everywhere I didn’t know what to do,” she said.

Dublin Fire Brigade were called to the scene at 5.50pm but Maleek was not breathing and had no pulse when they arrived. The child was rushed to Temple Street Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead at 7pm.

Anaphylactic shock

Pathologist Dr Deirdre Devaney gave the cause of death as acute anaphylactic shock in a boy with a known allergy to milk, eggs and fish following ingestion of food on the same date.

Paediatric Allergy specialist at Temple Street Dr Aideen Byrne said a skin test performed in March 2016 showed no resolution of the boy’s allergies and she advised ongoing avoidance of milk, fish and eggs.

Maleek’s mother received two auto-injectors and was advised to carry them at all times in case of anaphylaxis. Training on the use of the injectors was given by Maleek’s dietary team at Temple Street.

“His testing indicated to me that the risk of allergic reaction to food was very probable and it is impossible to predict the severity of a reaction a child might have. Particularly in relation to dairy and eggs, because the format of the processing and the cooking will impact hugely on the effect they have,” Dr Byrne said.

One in twenty Irish children now have food allergies, Dr Byrne said.

Food allergies

“We advise to carry the emergency injection, the Anapen at all times because the faster it is administered the more effective it is,” Dr Byrne said. The injector pen can be obtained from any chemist without prescription if an allergic reaction is suspected.

The Peri Peri chicken wrap contained milk, the court heard.

McDonald’s employee Kerry Byrne served Maleek’s mother the takeaway meal.

“It was a normal order there was no query about ingredients,” she said.

Asked if information is supplied regarding food allergies she answered that it was, by the till.

Returning a verdict of misadventure, Coroner Dr Myra Cullinane issued a recommendation to parents of children with allergies to consult lists provided by law by restaurants detailing ingredients of meals provided.

“The recommendation is that parents should consult such lists prior to ingestion and to reinforce the importance of carrying an auto-injector in cases of food allergy,” Dr Cullinane said.

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Louise Roseingrave
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