Personal Injury Attorney
Anaphylactic shock, also known as anaphylaxis, is a very serious concern for anyone who reacts to food allergens. Although most people with a food allergy will experience mild to moderate reactions, some will have a severe reaction that can be fatal if not treated within minutes or less.
A reaction to a food allergy can happen whenever food that has been improperly labeled is consumed. This could include meals at restaurants, quick snacks, school lunches, and so forth. According to the Food and Drug Administration, one out of 50 adult men and women and one in 20 children have serious food allergies. There are at least 30,000 hospital room visits every year and another 150 + deaths that occur from a bad reaction to a food allergy.
Understanding Food Allergies
A food allergy can develop in a person who has a compromised immune system, and in which the consumption of food causes a release of mediators such a histamines and leukotrienes. When these mediators are released, they can cause contractions of the muscles, leading to almost immediate symptoms including:
- Severe abdominal cramping
- Difficulty swallowing
- Inability to breathe
- Swelling of the tongue, lips, and esophagus
- Swelling of the eyes
- Skin turning red
- Heart palpitations
- Turning “blue”
- Low blood pressure
- Loss of consciousness
If these symptoms are not immediately treated, the individual can go into cardiac or respiratory arrest. This is life threatening.
The Importance of Proper Labelling of Food
There is no known cure for food allergies This means when a person is aware of an allergy to food, the best way to avoid a reaction is to not consume foods with the allergen. Avoiding food allergens can be difficult, especially when many manufacturers cross contact the particles of food items during the manufacturing process.
The 2004 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, made it a federal law for all food manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors in the U.S. to label any ingredient that is considered to be a major food allergen. These are:
- Milk and dairy products
- Seafood, including shellfish and fish
- Sesame seeds
The Duty to Protect Food Consumers
Manufacturers of food items, grocery stores, restaurants, cafeterias, catering companies, nursing homes, and any other company that sells foods to consumers, has a legal duty of care to protect them. When a product is mislabeled or poorly labeled, improperly prepared, or wrongly served, and a consumer has a severe food allergy reaction, the responsible parties can be held liable. In some cases, the victims doctor will be pursued because of a failure to explain to severity of the food allergy, or failure to prescribe an epinephrine pen (i.e. Epipen).
Examples of negligent actions on part of liable parties may include:
- Serving the wrong food to a consumer
- Failure to inform a consumer of certain food allergens on a menu after the consumer asked
- Mislabeling a food product label
- Failing to list food items on a label that are known to cause severe reactions
- Serving a child a food item that they are allergic to
Legal Recourse for a Food Allergy Reaction
If you were harmed because of the negligent actions of another person, you may have the right to file a personal injury claim against the party responsible. Compensation may be available for medical care, time off from work, legal fees, pain, suffering, and more. Proving negligence in food allergy reactions cases is often complicated. You should only choose a personal injury lawyer Washington, DC relies on who has the necessary skills to protect your rights as a consumer who was harmed by negligence.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims.