The fast food chain’s co-founder and chief executive John Vincent said it was impossible to guarantee that its dishes will be completely free from allergens.
“The idea that Leon could cause harm to one of our guests is horrifying,” he wrote in a blog post on Leon’s website.
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“And we would therefore ask those of you with serious allergies to consider carefully whether you choose to dine with us.
“We appreciate how frustrating this must be for you, but nothing is more important than your safety.”
Some interpreted this to mean Leon would start turning diners away if they had a severe allergy, but a spokesperson insisted this was not the case and apologised “if a few rare and isolated incidents have made it seem otherwise”.
Speaking to The Times, Natasha’s father said that Leon’s message implies that the chain thinks allergy sufferers should dine elsewhere, which shows a lack of confidence.
“The big problem is they are sending potentially a mixed message,” he said.
“I think they’ve started to run a bit scared. I think there’s someone at board level running scared of a Pret situation, in terms of protecting their business financially, and they’re getting all mixed up.”
Leon’s blog post prompted criticism on Twitter.
“They may as well say they cannot guarantee no food poisoning will ever happen so therefore all customers should consider carefully eating at their establishment #EpicFail #natashaslaw,” wrote one person.
“This is really disappointing!” added another. “What a terrible message to send! Who does their corporate communications?
“I have enjoyed eating at Leon but this really makes me feel unwelcomed as a customer. Definitely not going to eat there anymore!”