Boots pulled 'vegetarian' pasta with chicken



Boots took its vegetarian cheese and tomato pasta salads off sale last week, after a number of customers found chunks of chicken in it. The shop blamed a labelling issue, which it said had been sorted, so the dishes are back on sale.

So how common is this sort of thing, and what are your rights in cases like this?

The pasta

The issue hit the headlines after teenager Fayah Hussain, a Muslim who eats only halal meat, found the chicken in a pot of Delicious Simply Cheese and Tomato Salad she had bought from Boots in Birmingham Airport.

She was offered a refund and a free snack bar when she complained, but wasn't satisfied, and took her story to the papers.

Boots told the Birmingham Mail that they had received a number of complaints on 16 August, had withdrawn the pasta from the shelves, and conducted an investigation. They confirmed that there was chicken in the salads, but were satisfied that the problem had been solved, and the product was back on the shelves.

Your rights

Hussain may not have been impressed with the response, but the company did everything it should under the law. Boots did fall foul of product labelling laws - by incorrectly listing the ingredients - but in offering a full refund they did all that was required in order to rectify the situation.

There's no legal recourse to being served something you exclude from your diet - whether for moral or religious reasons - as long as the food you are given is safe to eat.

In the US a group of Hindu diners tested the law by suing a restaurant for serving them meat samosas in a New Jersey restaurant in 2011. In the end they failed in their efforts to secure damages.

10 consumer rights you should know

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If the food is dangerous, on the other hand, you have every right to damages. As we reported in May, a branch of Jamie's Italian - Jamie Oliver's Italian chain - was fined for £8,500 for serving pasta containing gluten to a woman with severe allergies who had specifically requested gluten-free pasta. She reached an out-of-court settlement with the chain for damages.

The only consolation available to a vegetarian who found meat in their food may be that things could have been even more gross.

They could have been like the Burger King customer from County Durham in July who found a slug in his burger, the Camden Model who found an inch long beetle in her M&S salad in May, or the Waitrose customer in September last year who came across a live frog in a bag of salad.

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