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.”

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.”

 

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.”

Smart as trees in Sault Ste. Marie; EH Booths withdraws roasted monkey nuts

I normally don’t write about allergy recalls. Sure it’s part of food safety but there’s so many, and there’s so many other better sources of info.

road.apples .tragicallyhipBut when a company markets Monkey Nuts, I can’t help myself.

Might as well call them road apples (frozen pieces of horse shit in Canada).

EH Booths is withdrawing some batches of its Whole Hearted Roasted Monkey Nuts, because the presence of peanuts is not declared on the label. This makes the product a possible health risk to those who are allergic to peanuts. The Agency has issued an Allergy Alert.

While Three Pistols was the most popular song off the album, Road Apples, I was always a fan of Born in the Water, which is about when Sault Ste. Marie (that’s in Canada) tried to ban French. Amy may like that tale.

Loophole, money concerns contributed to peanut death of student at fancy Melbourne school

A prestigious Melbourne private school has been slammed by a coroner who found it directly responsible for the death of a student who was fed beef satay despite having a known peanut allergy.

The Sydney Morning Herald cited coroner Audrey Jamieson as saying Scotch College was ignorant of recently released guidelines on anaphylaxis and showed a lack of respect to people with dietary preferences or requirements when it gave 13-year-old Nathan Francis the meal that claimed his life.

Two other cadets with a peanut allergy had the same meal.

The boy’s mother had informed the school of his allergy before Nathan attended the annual college army cadet camp at the Wombat State Forest in March 2007.

The inquest heard Scotch College bought ration packs from the Australian Defence Force in a bid to save $39,000.

But because the packs are not sold to the public, and since people with allergies are not permitted to join the army, they were not subject to food labeling legislation.

"This lackadaisical approach to the distribution of the ration packs possibly represents a certain mindset about the ‘type’ of boy/man that should be in the army/army cadets, but at a minimum represents a lack of respect or prejudice towards those with dietary preferences and/or requirements," Ms Jamieson said.

"The systematic failures may have commenced at the level of the army, but whatever lay behind and drove the process of distribution, it lacked rigour at the Scotch College level and operated in a way without regard to the consequences.

"Scotch College failed to exercise reasonable care and attention to the medical and food allergy information provided and known to them at the time preparations were being made for the camp."

In a finding delivered on Friday, the coroner said Nathan’s death was directly related to the college’s failure to take reasonable steps to ensure the health and safety of the boys attending the cadet camp.

She said his death could have been prevented if the college had exercised reasonable care and attention.

Ms Jamieson said college staff at the camp had an unacceptable level of complacency towards student safety.

The inquest heard there was a 10-minute delay in Nathan receiving his EpiPen (allergy treatment injector) because a staff member felt "uncomfortable" administering it.

Outside court, Nathan’s father Brian thanked the coroner for her strong findings.

"To say Nathan’s death has devastated our lives is too simplistic and understates the horror that has torn through our family," he said.

"Scotch college could have so easily prevented Nathan’s death.

The family reached a confidential settlement with the school and the ADF following a Federal Court ruling that the army pay a $210,100 penalty over Nathan’s death.

Food allergies linked to hygiene hypothesis? ‘If fewer allergies is more infection, no parent would expose their child to more infection’

People from well-educated families are almost twice as likely to suffer from some dangerous food allergies as others — possibly because their bodies’ natural defences have been lowered by rigorous hygiene and infection control, suggests a new Canadian study.

The research from McGill University also found that immigrants were about half as likely to be afflicted by the allergies, perhaps reflecting differences in diet and environment between their countries of origin and Canada.

The study, just published in the Journal of Allergy, was meant to address an enduring medical mystery: Why have so many people in certain industrialized countries developed violent reactions to peanuts, shellfish and other foods in recent decades?

The link to higher education may be explained by what is called the hygiene hypothesis, the unproven idea that smaller families, cleaner homes, more use of antibiotics to treat infections and vaccines to prevent them have curbed development of the immune system, said Dr. Moshe Ben-Shoshan, who led the research. That in turn could make some people more susceptible to allergy.

If the hypothesis does actually explain some food reactions, though, parents may not be able to do much about it, admitted the allergist at Montreal Children’s Hospital. The benefits of such health products as antibiotics and vaccines easily outweigh the risk of children developing serious allergies, said Dr. Ben-Shoshan.
“We can’t suggest we become dirtier and expose our children to more bacteria,” he said. “If the price of having fewer allergies is more infection, I don’t know any parent who would expose their child to more infection.”

The study’s findings are far from conclusive but they, and the hygiene hypothesis as an explanation, seem plausible, said Dr. Stuart Carr, president of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. He also cautioned, however, that translating the knowledge into preventive action would be complicated.

Woman with nut allergy has severe reaction after sex with man who ate nuts

In a new meaning for ‘peanut,’ a U.K. woman has, according to this story, which really needs to be verified, become the first person to suffer an allergic reaction to nuts triggered through having sex.

The boyfriend of the 20-year-old, who has not been named, had eaten a handful of Brazil nuts just before the couple’s passion took hold.

Having recently found out she was seriously allergic to the food, she asked him to take extreme precautions.

The man brushed his teeth, rinsed his mouth out, washed his hands and scrubbed under his fingernails, according to science-technology website io9.

But what happened next has alerted scientists to the fact that the nut proteins can get into the seminal fluid.

After the pair had sex, the lower part of the woman’s body swelled up and she became short of breath.

Doctors at St Helier hospital in Carshalton, Surrey assumed it was a severe allergic reaction to nuts, from kissing or skin-to-skin contact.

But after the pair explained their precautions, researchers doubted that the nut proteins ended up in sweat or saliva, because the allergic reaction would have started earlier, and would have been triggered in other couples.

It is the first recorded case of an allergic reaction to Brazil nuts through intercourse.

To be absolutely certain, doctors brought the man back in and took two semen samples – one before, and one four hours after eating Brazil nuts.

They then performed a test on the girl, where they give a small injection with a needle covered in semen underneath the skin.

This is a common way to test for particular allergies.

It appears that Brazil nut proteins resist digestion, which is why they generally end up in the immune system, triggering immune reactions.

They discovered the woman’s skin swelled up and his semen caused a reaction just three to four hours after eating the nuts.

But because the couple split up after the reaction, scientists were not able to carry out further tests.