There have been a number of recent media reports concerning the tragic cases of food allergy incidents and deaths, our sympathy and condolences go to the families and friends of Megan Lee, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse and Celia Marsh.  We hope that they can at least take some comfort in knowing the takeaway owners were prosecuted and Pret a Manger and other outlets are now improving their labelling practices.

A severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis is commonly caused by certain foods such as nuts, seeds, fish, shellfish, dairy products and eggs.  Non-food related causes can include wasp or bee stings, natural latex (rubber), penicillin or any other medication.  Symptoms can include a combination of:

  • generalised flushing of the skin
  • nettle rash (hives) anywhere on the body
  • sense of impending doom
  • swelling of throat and mouth
  • difficulty in swallowing or speaking
  • alterations in heart rate
  • severe asthma
  • abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
  • collapse and unconsciousness

More information on the condition and symptoms can be found at Anaphylaxis Campaign (there is also a section on ‘What to do in an emergency’) and at the NHS website

The Food Information Regulations 2014 legally require any business supplying food and drink to the public to provide information to their customers regarding allergens contained in the products they sell or serve.  There are 14 allergens listed in the Regulations that food businesses must inform their customers if they are present, regardless of whether or not they manufacture or pre-pack the food themselves. These are:

  • Celery
  • Cereals containing gluten
  • Crustaceans
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Lupin
  • Milk
  • Molluscs
  • Mustard
  • Nuts Peanuts Sesame seeds
  • Soya
  • Sulphur dioxide

For pre-packaged food, they must be clearly labelled within the list of ingredients by highlighting of the allergen.  For food that is not pre-packaged food e.g. food/drink served in a restaurant or café they must at least make the information available on request and display, in a clear manner, how this information can be obtained.

If they don’t do this and you suffer a severe allergic reaction, you may be entitled to compensation.  A claim for compensation can be broken down into two parts:

  1. Compensation for the injury – often called ‘General Damages’ or damages for pain, suffering and loss of amenity; and
  2. compensation for your direct financial losses such as loss of earnings, medical and travel expenses – called ‘Special Damages’

The amount you would receive in compensation depends on the severity of the allergic reaction, and how it impacted on your ability to carry out your usual activities and go to work.  The basic rule of thumb is the more severe the reaction, larger the compensation award.

We hope you won’t be involved in food allergy incident, but if you are contact our personal injury experts at Beecham Peacock who are recognised as ‘incredibly professional’, ‘outstanding’ and ‘brilliant’ for its serious injury, occupational disease and medical negligence expertise.

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