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Food Allergies Are No Joke . . . But Maybe . . .

If you are a Louis CK fan, you may have already seen his new special "Oh My God", currently on HBO, in which he talks about his "of course . . . but maybe ..." concept. Hilarious. Of particular relevance to this article is his discussion about nut allergies. Specifically, that they seem to be everywhere today and that the issue has evolved to the point that schools are nut free, packaging has nut warnings, etc. So, I'm going to explain the joke (I can already tell its not going to be funny when I say it, so do yourself a favor and check out the real deal on HBO or get more great Louis CK on his site here Sorry in advance for butchering this, but here goes.

The whole concept of "of course, but maybe" is that we all know that we have to take precautions to protect the kids who have nut allergies. Of course we do. It's not their fault that they are stricken with this issue and we, as a society, should take these simple steps to keep them safe. Of course. We would want nuts kept out of schools if our kids had these issues and there are so many good and easy snack alternatives to nuts. . . Of course. . . . But maybe, the nut allergy thing is here for a reason. Maybe it's a survival of the fittest kind of thing. No, no, no . . . Of course we don't want kids put in harms way. They're children! They can't protect themselves against this sort of thing and we need to make sure they are kept safe. Of course. . . But maybe if we just close our eyes to the whole thing for a year, the whole but issue just takes care of itself? Maybe we let it run its course and after a year we never have to deal with the but issue again.

That's the genius of Louis CK translated by me into a not funny version. You get the point. And I get it, too. I am an attorney who handles cases in which undisclosed food allergies result in severe injury or death of my clients. I read a lot about this topic. I know that there is a pretty broad spectrum of allergic reaction to nuts and I also know that about 0.6% of the population is allergic to peanuts and about 0.5% is allergic to tree nuts. For verification of the stats, check the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.

That's about one in every two hundred people with a nut allergy. Twenty percent of those with food allergies outgrow them after age 5, but many have them their whole life. If you have them, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you don't, you likely see the issue as inconvenient for those who have it but simply a process of reading the packages and asking restaurant staff to determine if allergens are present. You would be right for a large percentage of those with allergies whose reaction is mild. But remember, many people have LIFE THREATENING food allergies. They eat peanuts and they might die. The reality is that human error with this issue kills people. We just don't have the technology (yet) readily available to test food on the fly. This will probably change. Until it does, we have this issue.

To most of us, the issue of off-the-shelf products failing to disclose allergens seems uncommon. It seems even implausible that in this day and age, a company would actually develop a recipe for a product, which includes nuts, then manufacture that product, design the packaging for that product, on which the ingredients are listed, but in the process, fail to list the allergens. How can this happen? Human error. You are likely wondering, how often could this possibly be happening. The relaity is that it happens weekly in the United States. The easiest way I've found to track the instances is by following the USDA's FSIS Alert and FDA's product recall feeds.

Yes, there are two different feed you would need to follow because, even through the agencies technically cover different types of food, they both report on recalls of undisclosed nut allergens regularly. It's notable that following these feeds doesn't really help you if the product already made it to market and into harm's way. That happens. That's why, if you know someone with life threatening food allergies, they are the ones pulling a home-made container of food out of their bag when meeting them out at a restaurant. They've learned they can't rely on the system. If you were giving them a hard time about it, stop. Imagine wondering if you have swallowed something that could kill you everytime you eat! I'm thankful my allergies are limited to poison ivy.

Understanding the issue a bit better now, you can probably see that an undisclosed allergen can make it to market and hurt someone with a severe allergy. If that happens, two things must be done. First, the focus has to be on immediate medical attention. Food allergies can be so severe that death can litterally be minutes away. With the priority of immediate medical attention adequately addressed, action should be taken to preserve the evidence to support a personal injury claim against the restaurant or manufacturer. The remainder of the product eaten should be preserved, NOT thrown away. If there is an already discarded wrapper, save it. Put the product in a sealed container and place the container your freezer. You'll ultimately need to get it tested and the defendant will want to do the same. Save all documentation associated with purchase of the product. As soon as possible, create a list of everything else you ate for the preceeding 48 hours, with the date and time consumed, and any witnesses.

Your health is clearly the most important focus. But, you may have lasting medical issues and, certainly, you have been through an ordeal which justifies compensation. The other side of the case, be it the manufacturer or the adjustor of an applicable insurance company, will not tend to be cooperative. The legal burden is on you to prove that their product caused your injury and the other side of the case will not help you establish that. Representing victims of accidents and injuries, I'd recommend you contact an attorney immediately. Yes, I'm biased, but this is the type of issue that may seem straightforward at first, but it's not. Get legal advice. If you need advice today, call our office at 866-995-6663 and speak with a Food Allergy Injury Attorney today.

Categories: negligence, food allergies


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