A BABY’S first birthday has been ruined after she choked on a piece of plastic buried in pasta meal served up in a celebratory lunch at an Ashbourne pub.
Dixie Smith’s choking fit, which lasted around 40 seconds, brought the Stepping Stones to a standstill on Friday lunch time as her panicking parents fished the 2cm piece of sharp plastic from inside her mouth.
Her father Andy then inspected the Rigatoni Bolognese meal, which was on the children’s menu at the Carnation Way pub, and found a second piece of plastic in the sauce.
Dixie’s mother, Lucy, said: “At the time I think we were all a bit hysterical, she couldn’t breathe because the piece of plastic was lodged in her throat.
“We were all very traumatised by it, it was a horrible thing to happen on her first birthday.”
Mrs Smith, who lives in Derby Road, said she was disappointed with how the staff at the pub had handled the incident and rang pub firm Marston’s, which owns the Stepping Stones, but was told nobody was available to speak to.
She said: “All I wanted was to speak to someone that might have been able to apologise but I was told I couldn’t speak to anyone at that time on a Friday afternoon.
“I wanted someone to give me a call back and say sorry, but there was nobody around, I felt like I was being fobbed off.
“I didn’t hear anything all weekend and then I had to call on Monday.”
A spokesman for Marston’s said the company started looking into the problem as soon as it was reported to the pub staff, and confirmed it will be talking to the suppliers of the meal, which arrives pre-packaged.
In a statement released on Monday the firm said: “Marston’s has initiated a full traceability investigation with the food suppliers, which will take around seven working days to complete.
“This was begun on Friday 22nd February, the same day we received the customer’s complaint. Marston’s is committed to providing excellent customer service at all our pubs and restaurants, and will thoroughly investigate any need for further training.”
Mrs Smith added: “I think, to some extent, fair enough, accidents happen and I suppose if their food is cooked somewhere else and then brought in to be heated up and served then I can see it’s possible the pieces of plastic can be missed.
“But I do think, in the future, they will need to check their food more vigorously, especially meals on the children’s menu.”
Dixie has suffered no ill-effects from her choking fit but her parents say they are more wary of what they feed her and, though they will never eat at a Marston’s pub again, it has not put them off eating out in Ashbourne.
Mrs Smith said: “I don’t think it will put us off eating out but we won’t ever go to the Stepping Stones again.
“I think we’ll also be more careful checking through her food in the future.”