Allergic Reaction Causes Fatal Accidents

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Boy with severe dairy allergy dies after schoolmate throws cheese

A 13 year old boy from Greenford West London, died due to a serious allergic reaction, after going into anaphylactic shock. The boy was severely allergic to wheat, gluten, all dairy, eggs and all nuts. He was also asthmatic and suffered from atopic eczema. 

The boy was unconscious and stopped breathing shortly after paramedics arrived on the scene. It was alleged that another child had chased the boy with cheese and had thrown it down his t-shirt.

Pret A Manger two accounts of allergic reaction deaths

A 15 year old girl from London with a sesame allergy died after eating a Pret A Manger baguette in an airport, which did not list the ingredients. The girl collapsed and went into cardiac arrest during a flight from Heathrow to Nice, and died in a hospital in Nice despite her father administering two EpiPen injections.

Pret stated it is believed the sesame was baked into the baguette, rather than contained in seeds on its crust. Pret confirmed products are not individually labelled with allergen or ingredient information. Signs on shelves and till points advise customers to speak to managers to provide allergen advice. The company stated information is available in the company’s allergen guide, which is in stores and online.

A second customer from Wiltshire, 42, is believed to have died in hospital from an allergic reaction after consuming a dairy-free yogurt. Pret A Manger stated it was miss-sold the dairy free yoghurt, but the supplier Coyo denies its yoghurt is to blame for the death.

In response to this, Pret A Manger will list all ingredients and allergens on its freshly made products following the recent deaths.

Government are now in the process of reviewing food labelling laws, after the teenager died from an allergic reaction, and will look at food labelling responsibilities individual companies have.

Currently, food packaged on site before selling, does not need a specific allergen label attached. Environment Secretary Michael Gove stated he had instructed civil servants to investigate a law change.

Takeaway's and Peanut allergens:

Restaurant owners have in the past been jailed and sentenced to manslaughter, after customers consume products containing allergens unknowingly:

  • The owner of an Indian restaurant was jailed for 6 years and found guilty at Teesside Crown Court, following the death of a customer with a peanut allergy- despite the customer ordering the meal with ‘no nuts.’
  • A 15 year old Teenager was recently killed after unknowingly eating an Indian takeaway meal containing peanuts, in Lancashire. The trail is ongoing, with the offender currently denying manslaughter.
  • What are laws on allergens in food products?

    There are both criminal and civil legal regimes that regulate the sale of foods containing allergens. Restaurants are legally obliged to provide customers with information to food labelling and ingredients. Certain allergic reactions are avoidable, but can be deadly.

    • The UK Food Regulations Act 2014 currently allows freshly handmade, non-pre-packaged food to not be individually labelled.
    • Freshly made product does not have to be individually labelled with allergen or ingratiation information- this is within current regulation
    • Sesame is one of the 14 allergens consumers must be aware of when used in food products, according to EU regulations
    • Under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, a manufacturer can be liable to consumers for injury, loss or damage suffered as a result of supplying a defective product, whether or not they are seen to be negligent.
  • What causes a person to be allergic to something?

    When you’re allergic to something, your body is mistaken into believing it is a harmful substance. A person has an allergy when they cannot tolerate one or more foods, and their immune system creates symptoms.

    Immune systems protect our bodies from infections, producing molecules that recognise germs that cause infections. Our immune system makes many different types of antibodies: they produce IgE molecule to fight infections caused by parasites. The immune system of some people makes IgE by mistake to harmless things like pollen, mites, dust and food groups;- giving rise to hay fever and asthma, and food allergies

    When a person eats a food, it may trigger immune cells to produce abnormal amounts of IgE. For some, even the smallest amounts can produce an allergic reaction severe in symptoms.

Tracey Stringer, Personal Injury Chartered Legal Executive, comments: 

In severe cases, allergic reactions can cause fatal accidents. This can be due to negligence; the conviction of manslaughter can be liable in some cases. Many allergic reaction cases also tend to come from the beauty industry; hair dye and beauty treatments where a patch test has not been done prior.  

If someone else is to blame for an accident that led to yourself or someone you know to sustain injuries, you may be liable to claim compensation. Claims following such accidents require specialist advice and care. Each year, we take instructions from more than 2000 people who have been injured through no fault of their own.  

The law provides firm guidance on what one is entitled to claim and how the claim should be presented. Provided that negligence on the part of another has caused a death then a claim can be made by the relatives and/or personal representatives of the deceased. 

If require more information or assistance, call on 0113 284 5017 or alternatively email on tracey.stringer@isonharrison.co.uk

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