Group demands measures to prevent food allergy deaths

Association of parents call for urgent legislation to ensure accurate food labels, restaurant ingredient lists following "Nutella death."

By
July 25, 2011 02:52
2 minute read.
Nuts

Nuts. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Following the tragic death from anaphylactic shock of 26-year-old Chen Efrat after being served chocolate spread containing nuts – to which she was very allergic – an association of parents whose children have food allergies called for urgent legislation to ensure accurate food labels and restaurant ingredient lists.

The organization, called YAHEL, convened last week to discuss the tragedy, in which a Tel Aviv cafe waitress brought Efrat a dish of Belgian waffles with Nutella chocolate spread, which is based on nuts, even though she insisted she wanted only pure chocolate because nuts posed a danger to her life.

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“The lack of awareness and disregard kill our children,” the organization said. “The next tragedy is on the way. Chen didn’t have to die. If the authorities, such as the Health Ministry, who are entrusted with this matter had done their job, it would not have happened. A restaurant or cafe is the last in the chain of failures that led to this tragic incident.

“If Chen had had with her a syringe containing adrenaline for immediate treatment of allergic reactions, it is likely that she would have been saved. But even she didn’t know of the existence of such a thing, so the responsibility is also of the allergy doctors, who do not always inform patients with serious food allergies. They don’t always prescribe the syringe, even though it can save lives,” the parents said.

Shulamit Rader, chairman of the association, said the sad case did not surprise the parents. “Every day, children arrive in hospital emergency rooms around the country with serious allergic reactions.

The public is not aware of it because fortunately, in the majority of cases, the children’s lives are saved,” she said.

“Israel is decades behind other countries as far as labeling all contents of food, and more resources are needed to raise public awareness of the risks. At present, the most urgent need is to have such an adrenaline ‘pen’ available at all public places, especially in restaurants,” Rader said.

YAHEL called for an urgent session of the Knesset Labor, Social Affairs and Health Committee to discuss Efrat’s death and how to prevent such incidents.


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