A mum has criticised barmy health and safety rules after she was asked to leave a Tesco store – because her son had a helium BALLOON.
Plastics expert Dr Alicia Chrysostomou, 44, was accosted by security as she shopped with her three-year-old son Sebastian strapped in his pushchair.
The guard told them balloons were banned in the store because they could cause a severe reaction if they brushed past someone with a latex allergy.
When Dr Chrysostomou protested she was allowed to remain in the store if she removed the balloon from the handle of Sebastian’s buggy and he held onto it instead.
The guard failed to mention that the bizarre policy was in place because a member of staff at the Tesco Extra had a severe latex allergy.
But Dr Chrysostomou said that there were no signs and even some balloons in the entrance of the store at the Willow Brook Centre in Bradley Stoke, Bristol.
She said yesterday (Mon): ”I never heard such absolute nonsense. You hear the statement ‘health and safety gone mad’ all the time, but this really was.
”I felt like a shoplifter or something awful but all I had done was gone in there with a balloon.
”A crowd gathered with people muttering and staring because it must have looked as if I had committed some grave offence.”
The helium balloon had been handed to the toddler outside a nearby leisure centre close to the supermarket.
Dr Chrysostomou has a PhD in polymer engineering and has studied and lectured on plastics and rubbers for over 20 years.
She added: ”I have never come across anyone experiencing such a reaction that they could not pass a balloon for fear it should brush them.
”Also, my child was sitting quietly with the balloon tied to his pushchair – not running amok.
”If this were such a problem, why not tell me as I came into Tesco, not chase me through the store and make a scene.
”And why not have some kind of sign outside? I looked and saw none.
”How on earth can a balloon be given freely to a three-year-old on one side of the road only for it to be treated as some sort of lethal weapon on the other?”
Dr Chrysostomou works part-time at London Metropolitan University and lives with her son and husband in Bradley Stoke, Bristol.
A spokesman for Tesco apologised for any offence caused but insisted that there was a notice explaining the policy at the store.
He said: ”A member of staff at our store in Bradley Stoke has a severe latex allergy so we do ask customers not to bring latex balloons into the store.
”There is signage at the entrance and we are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.”