UK restaurateur sentenced to 6 years after peanut allergy death

The owner of an Indian takeaway in North Yorkshire has been found guilty of manslaughter after a customer with a nut allergy was served a meal containing ground peanuts.

food.allergensThe trial was told Mohammed Zaman had cut corners by swapping the thickening agent almond powder for the cheaper groundnut powder, which contained peanuts.

Although the vast majority of restaurants are safe, a number each year are found to have breached laws and guidelines.

Since December 2014, takeaways and restaurants have been required by law to let customers know if any of the 14 most dangerous allergens are ingredients in their food.

They include peanuts, eggs, milk, fish, crustaceans and mustard.

Paul Wilson, 38, who suffered an anaphylactic shock after eating a meal from Zaman’s business, died before the change in the law, but the trial heard he had flagged up his peanut allergy to the restaurant and his meal had been labelled as “nut free”.

Another customer with a nut allergy had to be treated at a hospital after eating at Mr. Zaman’s restaurant three weeks before Mr. Wilson’s death. Like him, she had been assured her meal would not contain nuts, prosecutors said.

Mr. Zaman was convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence in the death of Mr. Wilson, and six food safety offenses. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

indian gardenHe had a “reckless and cavalier attitude to risk,” the prosecutor, Richard Wright, told a jury at Teesside Crown Court.

It marked the first time in Britain that someone has been convicted of manslaughter over the sale of food.

David Pickering, of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), said: “Some [restaurants] will have it in a book, some will give you the information verbally. If they can’t give you it, don’t eat there.”

Increased action required to protect those with food allergies

Our daughter has been diagnosed with a moderate shellfish allergy, which is a shame with all the great shellfish in and around Brisbane, but more importantly it means we carry an epi pen and know how to use it.

food-allergies-imageIt’s made me more empathetic to those with severe allergies.

An independent review of the UK’s food system has concluded more action needs to be taken in order to better protect people with food allergies. That’s according to a report from a leading UK team of food safety experts, including Professor Chris Elliott from Queen’s University Belfast, a co-author of a paper published in The Royal Society of Chemistry’s journal Analyst, outlining a strategy to close the gaps in current processes for detecting and measuring allergens – substances in foods that can trigger an allergic reaction. The publication comes during the UK’s Allergy Awareness Week (25th April – 1 May).

Food allergy is a rapidly growing problem in the developed world, affecting up to 10 per cent of children and 2-3 per cent of adults. Allergic reactions can range from a mild runny nose, skin irritation or stomach upset to severe anaphylaxis, which can be fatal.

Food allergies have significant impact on quality of life and usually require lifelong avoidance of the offending foods. There are also burdens on health care, the food industry and regulators.

Professor Elliott and Professor Duncan Burns, Emeritus Professor at Queen’s Institute for Global Food Security, are among a team of experts led by Michael Walker from the Government Chemist Programme at LGC, which has outlined a ‘grand vision’ to address the key challenges in allergen measurement and analysis. They make a series of recommendations primarily addressed to the European Commission’s Health and Food Safety Directorate, DG Santé, aimed at securing a food chain which is reliable, resistant to fraud and ultimately safe for consumers.

Professor Elliott is a world-renowned expert on food fraud and traceability and led the independent review of the UK’s food system following the 2013 horsemeat scandal. He said: “The food supply chain is highly vulnerable to fraud involving food allergens, risking consumer health and reputational damage to the food industry. Cross-contamination during production, processing and transport is also a problem. While efforts have been made to improve food labelling and introduce the concept of threshold quantities for allergens, these depend on being able to accurately detect and quantify allergens in the first instance. Gaps in the current system mean that it is difficult to achieve this.

“This paper sets out a strategy to address those gaps and calls on the EC to take action in three particular areas. Firstly, the use of bioinformatics studies for modelling how best to predict what allergens present in foods, and specifically what quantities of these allergens, will adversely affect the health of someone with food allergies. Secondly, the development of reference methods which will provide a ‘gold standard’ for the detection and measurement of allergens in food. And thirdly, the production of reference materials which can support threshold decisions -samples of foods with known, controlled amounts of allergens present, to allow for checks on the accuracy of allergen testing methods.”

Significant international effort and an inter-disciplinary approach will be required to achieve these aims and protect those at risk of food allergies. Lead author of the report, Michael Walker from LCG said: “If we fail to realise the promise of future risk management of food allergens through lack of the ability to measure food allergens properly, the analytical community will have failed a significant societal challenge. Our recommendations are complex with associated resource demand but rarely has such an exciting interdisciplinary scientific endeavour arisen as a solution to a key socially relevant problem.”

The open access paper in Analyst is available at  http://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2016/an/c5an01457c?page=search.

More support for early exposure to peanuts to prevent allergies

There’s a lot of mights and maybes, but according to scientists, evidence is accumulating that food allergies in children might be prevented by feeding infants peanuts and other allergenic food in their first year of life.

That finding would challenge the recommendation of the World Health Organization that babies be fed exclusively breast milk for the first six months of life.

“At least as far as peanut is concerned, I would recommend parting from that,” Dr. Gideon Lack, professor of pediatric allergy at King’s College London, told the N.Y. Times.

chapman.peanuts.apr.10Dr. Lack was the senior author of a study last year that found feeding peanuts to young children starting when they are 4 to 11 months old sharply reduced the risk of their developing peanut allergies. That upended the conventional wisdom that it is best to avoid introducing peanuts until children are older.

Those results are already starting to affect feeding practices, but they left several unanswered questions. Now, some of those questions were answered by two additional studies that are being published in The New England Journal of Medicine and presented here at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology on Friday.

One question was whether children who consume peanuts from an early age will still remain free of allergies if they stop consuming them. The researchers followed the children from the original study for another year, from the time they turned 5 until they turned 6. For that year, they were not supposed to eat peanuts at all.

The results were reassuring. There was no big increase in allergies.

“It tells you the protective effect is stable,” Dr. Lack said.

Another question was whether the early feeding technique could be applied to other types of foods and to children at normal risk of allergies. (The original study involved children deemed to have a high risk of peanut allergy.)

The researchers conducted a second study at King’s College London involving 1,300 infants who were 3 months old and being fed only breast milk. Half were randomly assigned to continue on only breast milk until 6 months of age, which is the recommended practice in Britain. The other half were to be regularly fed small amounts of peanut butter and five other allergenic foods: eggs, yogurt, sesame, white fish and wheat. The children were assessed for allergies when they turned three.

Overall, 5.6 percent of the babies who were fed the allergenic foods early developed an allergy to at least one of the six foods, a modest improvement from the 7.1 percent in the breast-milk-only group. However, the difference was not statistically significant, meaning it could have occurred by chance.

One problem was that fewer than half the parents in the early-introduction group actually fed their children the required six foods on a regular basis. But when researchers looked only at those children whose parents adhered to the feeding regimen, there was a statistically significant reduction in allergies. Only 2.4 percent of those children developed a food allergy, compared with 7.3 percent of those whose parents faithfully stuck to breast milk only for six months. There were also significant reductions in peanut allergies alone and egg allergies alone.

In a commentary in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Gary W.K. Wong, a pediatrician at Chinese University of Hong Kong, cautioned about jumping to conclusions. He said that in any case, the fact that so many parents did not stick to the regimen suggested it was too demanding to be practical, and that less burdensome ways must be found to introduce allergenic foods early.

“In the meantime,” he said, “evidence is building that early consumption rather than delayed introduction of foods is likely to be more beneficial as a strategy for the primary prevention of food allergy.”

 

Food fraud: Aust. pine nuts recalled after they were found to be peanuts

A Brisbane wholesale company has urgently recalled a product over fears of allergic reactions that could “put customers in danger” due to incorrect labelling.

pine.nutsQueensland Health has been alerted to the issue by Country Fresh Food Products after plastic containers of pine nuts were found to actually be peanuts.

The incorrect labelling on the containers could lead to an allergic reaction if a person with peanut sensitivities ate the nuts.

The company only discovered the error after a customer contacted them to report the nuts smelt like peanuts not pine nuts.

Further product testing revealed the error and the company is working with Queensland Health.

The company bought the plastic containers from an importer based in Victoria.

FSIS releases new guide to help food processors control potential allergens, other hazards

The  U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released new guidelines to assist meat, poultry, and processed egg product producers in properly managing ingredients that could trigger adverse reactions among consumers with allergies or other sensitivities.

food.allergies“Our mission as a public health agency is to protect America’s most vulnerable populations, including children, from harm, and these new guidelines do just that,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “Beyond keeping our families safe, these guidelines also provide a useful tool to help food companies avoid preventable, costly recalls.”

Food allergens are a public health issue impacting millions of Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that two percent of adults, and four to eight percent of children, in the United States have food allergies. Food allergens can cause serious symptoms and can result in anaphylaxis, a potentially life threatening reaction.

Over the last several years, in part due to new actions by FSIS, there has been an increase in recalls of FSIS regulated products due to undeclared allergens. These problems often are caught by FSIS inspectors during labeling checks and are the result of changes to ingredient suppliers, products being placed in the wrong package, or changes to product or ingredient formulations.

By following these new guidelines, establishments are more likely to ensure that product labels declare all ingredients, as required by law, and that products do not contain undeclared allergens or other undeclared ingredients.  The guidance covers prevention and control measures of potentially allergic ingredients, packaging, labeling, storage, checklists, and allergen training, among others.

The finalized guidelines are part of FSIS’ comprehensive and ongoing efforts to reduce the number of allergen-related recalls. In April 2015, FSIS inspectors met with management at every FSIS-regulated establishment in the country to discuss whether the establishment produces items containing allergens, and, if so, whether the establishment had a process in place to ensure proper labeling. FSIS inspectors then increased the number of allergen labeling-related inspection checks they conduct in these establishments in order to ensure products are properly labeled. The Agency believes that this action has made plants more conscious of properly labeling their products and prevented additional recalls this year.

The guidelines can be found online at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/AllergenGuide

Over the past six years, USDA has collaborated extensively with other federal partners to safeguard America’s food supply, prevent foodborne illnesses and improve consumers’ knowledge about the food they eat. USDA’s FSIS is working to strengthen federal food safety efforts and develop strategies that emphasize a three-dimensional approach to prevent foodborne illness: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery.

Food fraud consequences: 10-year-old died in Melbourne after drinking coconut milk as importer admits label charges

But why wasn’t the investigation and cause revealed earlier, to warn and hopefully prevent further cases. Maybe it has something to do with the legal system in Australia.

coconut.drinkMaybe it doesn’t.

A 10-year-old child died from an allergic reaction in Dec. 2013 after drinking a “natural” coconut drink imported by a Sydney firm.

The canned product from Taiwan, Greentime Natural Coconut Drink, is sold in most states and was recalled just over a month later following the tragedy. But it was never revealed that it was blamed for causing the fatal anaphylactic reaction in the child from Melbourne.

The NSW Food Authority said importer Narkena Pty Ltd, based in western Sydney, pleaded guilty in September to three labelling charges and will be sentenced later this month.

The authority said the company entered pleas of guilty to two charges that the drink was labelled in a way that falsely described the food and to one charge of selling food in a manner that contravened the Food Standards Code.

A spokeswoman for the Victorian Coroner said a decision about whether there would be an inquest would be made after the other court hearings were concluded. Lawyers are understood to be pursuing a civil action against the importer.

Despite the tragedy occurring some 22 months ago, it was only in August that a suppression order was applied for in relation to the case.

The child, as a minor, cannot be named by The Sun-Herald.

The child is understood to have had an allergy to dairy products. The NSW Food Authority said at the time that the recall was because the milk content was not declared on the label.

Narkena Pty Ltd did not respond to a request for comment.

Five coconut drinks have been recalled in the last four weeks, all because they contained undeclared cow’s milk according to Allergy and Anaphylaxis Australia.

Last month, The Sun-Herald reported Aiden Henderson, nine, who is allergic to dairy products, went into anaphylactic shock after drinking the flavoured drink Coco Joy. It is also imported by a Sydney firm and was recalled after the incident.

Maria Said, president of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia said she was dismayed that although the coconut drink the child consumed immediately before the anaphylaxis that took his life was found to contain cow’s milk, it had taken almost two years for other similar products to be investigated.

“Surely someone in the food science industry would have known the cow’s milk was used for a functional purpose in coconut drink and if that was the case, it would likely be in other coconut drinks,” she said.

“Another child’s near-death experience after drinking a different coconut drink in July 2015 prompted NSW Food Authority to test other coconut drink products, some of which have now also been recalled due to undeclared cow’s milk. The spate of coconut drink-related recalls continues as it should have from Jan 2014.”

 

UK restaurant owner faces manslaughter charge in fatal peanut allergy case

The owner of an Indian restaurant accused of the manslaughter of a customer who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to peanuts after eating a meal is due to appear in court.

paul.wilson.peanut.allergyMohammed Zaman, 52, owner of the Indian Garden in Easingwold, North Yorkshire, is due to enter pleas at Teesside Crown Court today after he was charged over the death of Paul Wilson (right).

The 38-year-old customer suffered a severe anaphylactic reaction and died after buying a curry from the restaurant in January last year. It was claimed he requested no nuts.

As well as manslaughter by gross negligence, the restaurant boss is charged with perverting the course of justice by forging a food safety training certificate, an immigration offence relating to the employee who served the contaminated meal, and food safety offences.

Zaman, from Huntington, York, was granted bail at a previous hearing.

Is the food industry doing enough to control allergens?

Friend of the barfblog.com, Roy Costa, writes that a recent spat of food product recalls due to undeclared allergenic agents illustrates the problem the food industry has in preventing allergen exposures.

food_allergy_genericWhile food manufacturers usually have allergen controls in place, protecting those in the population with food allergies can be particularly challenging. Undeclared allergens are considered a significant chemical hazard in food and thus a critical control in many processes, yet most product recalls are due to undeclared allergens.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), requires manufacturers to list on the food label the eight most common ingredients that trigger food allergies. At-risk consumers rely on the labels on foods to guide them in making healthy choices, and to protect themselves from allergens. Therefore, the failure to properly label foods when they contain allergenic ingredients, or when they have the potential to contain an allergenic compound is a massive failure of company’s food safety system.

Allergens are proteins and other substances known to react with a susceptible person’s immune system to precipitate an allergic reaction; there are approximately 15 million at- risk consumers in the US population. Persons with allergies may develop sometimes-serious medical consequences, such as breathing difficulties or go into anaphylactic shock after exposure to a host of allergens in food.

There are eight major allergens that cause 90% of allergic reactions:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree nuts (such as almonds, cashews, walnuts)
  • Fish (such as bass, cod, flounder)
  • Shellfish (such as crab, lobster, shrimp)
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Food labeling laws require food allergens to be identified even in very small amounts — but only when they’re contained as an ingredient. Manufacturers aren’t required to include warnings about food allergens accidentally introduced during manufacturing or packaging (cross-contamination). The label lists the type of allergen — for example, the type of tree nut (almond, walnut) or the type of crustacean shellfish (crab, shrimp) — as well as any ingredient that contains a protein from the eight major food allergens. The labels also include any allergens found in flavorings, colorings or other additives.

Many manufacturers voluntarily include warnings, but these advisory labels aren’t always clear. Manufacturers have different ways of saying a food allergen may be present. For example, labels may say, “manufactured in a factory that also processes wheat” or “may contain soy.” Work is needed to make the format of these advisory labels more consistent so that it’s easier to identify which products contain allergens. Medical authorities advise consumers in doubt about whether a product contains something they are allergic to, to avoid it until and they check with their doctor.

food.allergiesWhen foods contain an undeclared allergen, or when allowable levels of a food additive, such as sulfites, used as a preservative are exceeded, such foods are deemed adulterated and a recall is initiated.

A product recall is a crisis for a company; it results in serious economic loss and legal entanglements, and can be a major challenge to the viability of a brand.

Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) controls during manufacturing

Product contamination and adulteration can take several forms; we classify substances as foodborne hazards if they are reasonably likely to cause illness or injury when out of control. We can classify them into 4 broad categories, such as chemical, physical, biological and radiological (thanks Fukashima). We develop controls for the particular hazards that are expected to occur, and critical controls for the likely ones with the most potential for harm. Food safety plans built on the principles of Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) must consider the likelihood of occurrence of these chemical hazards in most food manufacturing processes. While producers of commodities such as eggs, fresh meat or fresh produce do need to list allergens, most other foods require some type of allergen control and/or label.

Control starts with identifying the specific allergenic ingredients. Then, an operator must determine how they are handled and how they flow through a production system. Such studies often reveal points where cross contamination with allergens may occur. Controlling cross contamination between allergenic and non-allergenic ingredients on production lines is necessary when the line runs both allergenic and non-allergenic food, or when a variety of allergens are run. However, cross contamination controls begin at the time a firm receives an allergen-containing ingredient and continue during its storage, internal transport and during packing.

Proper cleaning between product runs is the most fundamental control. Visual inspection of the equipment to detect particles remaining post-cleaning is a useful effort, but unseen residues of allergens may linger and cross contaminate the next product run, as even the best cleaning may not result in 100% removal of particles. The cleaning process must also consider the forms, i.e., pastes or films, encountered and match that with the appropriate cleaner. Some plants must use dry cleaning methods when water in a production environment is detrimental, such as when manufacturing confectionaries, or in bakery environments. Such dry methods can be ineffective and can lead to cross contamination. Even when detergents and water can be applied to equipment, applications may be uneven, leaving traces behind. As better laboratory methods of detection have increased the specificity of tests, investigators looking for allergens can detect smaller and smaller amounts of them.

In-plant allergen testing of equipment, however, can provide verification that allergens are not present on a surface after cleaning. Some tests used in a plant environment are not allergen-specific, and utilize quick colorimetric tests for proteins, sugars or other markers of allergen contamination. Operators instead should use ELISA kits (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay); while much more sophisticated and expensive they can be validated and possibly validate the protein or sugar swab methods. ELISA tests may be a better choice for in plant testing. Such testing can be qualitative as well as quantitative (a 5 ppm Level of Detection typically). Operators should also develop protocols to establish the baseline information needed to interpret results. Establishing baseline acceptance criteria requires establishing the levels of allergens in products when various levels of allergens are detected on surfaces of equipment. Off-site labs having more sophisticated methods usually conduct such validation studies. Such validation data may allow operators to accept some trace levels and avoid the pitfall of chasing molecules around a plant, when such levels are shown not to affect the final product.

Operators must designate cleaning tools for specific areas to avoid the tool as a form of cross contamination and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures must be developed. Such SSOP should contain the designation of a cleaning crew and sanitation employees need ongoing training. The SSOP should contain the items requiring cleaning, the types of cleaners used, dilution values for detergents and degreasers, how to maintain effective levels, water temperature, tools used, how often the cleaning is carried out, and the timing of visual inspections and verification. As in all HACCP based-systems the results of the testing program are recorded and verified.

Cross contamination may occur during storage and internal transport

Storage of allergen containing materials together in the same area can also lead to cross contamination when the operation has not effectively designated the proper storage areas. Storage of allergenic foods above non-allergenic, or a mix up of ingredients or finished products can lead to cross contamination through the environment. Ideally a facility should store sensitive items in separate enclosed areas, but not all plants have the capacity for separate storage. In these situations, careful monitoring and a visual marking or signage is helpful.

Even forklifts and pallet jacks could play a role along with totes and other containers.

Because we have risks in allergen control, and our controls may not always be successful, the label should provide the at-risk consumer with enough information for making a decision. As mentioned earlier however, the use of language such as “may contain…” or “made in a plant that also processes…” make food choices more difficult and impacts the quality of life for such consumers.

Labels are applied to final unit packages by hand, or by a label machine, typically. Rolls of labels have to be run for each batch of product. The timing and staging often lead to the packing of several products at once and different label sets on the plant floor. When the products differ as to allergens it is easy to make an error in the application of labels. Errors can also occur in the printing of labels, and allergenic ingredients may be inadvertently left out if the operator has not done his due diligence and did not realize the product or ingredient contained an allergen. Highly refined oils are hidden ingredients in many products and may contain trace amounts of proteins, for example.

Foodservice allergen control

Patrons of restaurants are often highly at risk to be exposed to allergens. No such menu labeling requirements are required in the USFDA Food Code. Restaurants handle a complex variety of foods and it is nearly impossible to know for every recipe and every product, what allergens may or may not be there or to separate them. Furthermore, the operating conditions of restaurants are very different then processing plants and there is very little that can be done about preparing and storing various allergen sensitive foods together.

The last line of defense is the waiter or waitress who is often the only person except for the cook who can answer a question about whether a food contains a certain ingredient or not. Even then, it may be impossible to know in every case, every allergenic ingredient.

The effectiveness of industry allergen control programs

As illustrated by the recent spate of recalls, the food industry’s response to allergen control has been less than completely successful and more needs to be done. The industry needs better testing regimens and adherence to properly developed cleaning protocols. As in the case with preventing microbial contamination, a company must provide the resources necessary, and have the experience and technical ability to monitor and control a sometimes-complex array of policies, procedures and validation methods.

And for a variety of reasons, some unknown, the situation is getting worse:

  • According to a study released in 2013 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food allergies among children increased approximately 50% between 1997 and 2011.
  • Researchers are trying to discover why food allergies are on the rise in developed countries worldwide, and to learn more about the impact of the disease in developing nations. More than 17 million Europeans have a food allergy, and hospital admissions for severe reactions in children have risen seven-fold over the past decade, according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).

As with all things food, the hopeful implementation of FDA’s FSMA will strengthen the backbone of allergen control efforts in the future, but the industry should recognize more is needed now.

 

Mom of peanut allergy victim: Her last words were ‘I’m sorry’

Louis and Joanne Giorgi sat together in the backyard of their Carmichael home Wednesday morning. They held each others’ hands and clutched tissues as they spoke publicly for the first time since their 13-year old daughter died from an allergic reaction to a dessert treat they had no idea contained peanuts.

“To have lost her is devastating,” Joanne Giorgi told KCRA 3’s Mike TeSelle.

KCRA Channel 3 reports Natalie Giorgi’s parents are speaking publicly in hopes of using their daughter’s death as a push for change, and a vehicle for educating the public about peanut-victim2-JPGthe seriousness of food allergies.

“This can be a catalyst for a paradigm shift, much the way seat belt use has changed since when we were kids,” Louis Giorgi said.

Natalie Giorgi died July 26 after eating a Rice Krispie treat that had been prepared with peanut products at Camp Sacramento on the final day of a multi-family camping trip, her parents said.

Giorgi had a documented allergy to peanuts.

“We had been there before. We had eaten their Rice Krispie treats before. We had never had a problem before,” Louis Giorgi said.

Giorgi said immediately after taking one bite of the treat, his daughter told her parents.

She had been dancing with friends when she took the bite.

“We gave her Benadryl like we’d been told,” Natalie’s father said.

Over the next several minutes, the Giorgis said their daughter showed no signs of a reaction whatsoever.

“I kept asking, ‘are you OK?’ She kept telling me she was fine, and she wanted to go back to dancing with her friends,” Natalie’s mom said. 

Natalie kept asking her parents to go back to her friends, but they kept telling her she had to stay with them, to make sure she was OK.

“Then suddenly, she started vomiting,” Louis said. “It spiraled downhill out of control so quickly.”

Natalie’s father, a physician, administered both of the EPI-Pens — used to slow or stop an allergic reaction — that the family carried with them.

A third was obtained from the camp and administered. None of them stopped her reaction. Her dad called 911.

“I did everything right, in my opinion. I couldn’t save her,” Louis Giorgi said.

Emergency responders who arrived later couldn’t save her, either.

“She had been fine, and had been talking to us. This was a worst-case scenario. One of the last things she said was, ‘I’m sorry mom,'” Natalie mother said as she wiped a tear away from her cheek.

The Giorgis said one of the many reasons they are sharing Natalie’s story is to convince skeptical parents that food allergies in children is very real.

More information can be found at Nateam.org.

This is nuts: parents blast NZ TV prank

An on-screen prank that involved smearing peanut butter on the face of a children’s television presenter pretending to have a nut allergy has outraged parents of children suffering from the affliction.

The New Zealand Herald reports What Now presenter Adam Percival had his face covered in peanut butter during yesterday adam.percivalmorning’s show on TV2 as part of a segment about allergies.

Despite Percival not being allergic to nuts, the segment drew harsh criticism from parents who labeled it “irresponsible” and feared terrible consequences if children imitated the prank.

One concerned mother said she would lay a complaint with the industry watchdog, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

What Now took to Facebook to defend the segment, saying Percival was safe and the prank was a way to highlight the issue.

“Our intention is never to make fun of anybody who has allergies, but to make sure we highlight the fact that having an allergy is a serious issue,” said the post.

It had generated more than 60 comments by 6.30 last night.

Dion McCracken, whose son has a serious nut allergy, was not convinced by the explanation.

“Great for Adam. A shame for my son who may now be exposed to kids at school thinking your prank was a great idea,” he said.

“If one kid that watched the prank thinks it’s funny to smear peanut butter on an allergy kid, there is a very real threat of anaphylaxis and rapid death.

“What Now didn’t have ill intent, but they’ve just taught thousands of Kiwi kids that doing this isn’t a big deal. It really is.”

Claire Eveleigh said she was going to lay a complaint.

“It’s very scary that you are defending yourself on a topic you clearly do not know much about. Not knowing is OK … but broadcasting on TV about it is not OK … I will be making a complaint to the BSA about this.”