In yet another horrific tragedy that could have been avoided, 14 year old Emma Sloan died on the streets of Dublin Wednesday after ingesting a sauce containing peanuts at a restaurant.
Emma, who had a known peanut allergy, was having dinner with her family at Jimmy Chung’s Chinese buffet in Dublin’s Eden Quay. Emma’s mother Caroline explains what happened in this quote from the Irish Independent:
“Emma has always been very careful and would check the ingredients of every chocolate bar and other foods to be sure they didn’t contain nuts. She had a satay sauce. She thought it was curry sauce because it looked like curry sauce and smelt like curry.
“I’m not blaming the restaurant because there was a sign saying ‘nuts contained’, but it wasn’t noticed. After a while, Emma began to say, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’.”
Neither Emma nor Mrs Sloan were carrying Emma’s prescribed epinephrine auto-injectors at the time. Mrs Sloan, realizing her daughter was suffering anaphylaxis, ran to a local pharmacy to obtain an auto-injector but was refused by the pharmacist because she did not have a prescription with her. Ireland’s strict regulations forbid the dispensing of prescription drugs without a prescription.
She was told to take her daughter to a nearby hospital for treatment, but while the two were underway by foot, Emma collapsed. Despite the efforts of a passing doctor, EMTs and fire fighters, Emma died on the sidewalk.
A Personal Appeal in the Wake of This Tragedy
We, the founders of SnackSafely.com, have a daughter with a peanut allergy that is almost the same age as Emma. This tragedy, like the death of Andrew Turner earlier this week, holds a special place in our hearts because it could have been avoided had Emma’s family practiced some very basic safety precautions. Please take a moment to review the following.
First and foremost, a person diagnosed with a severe food allergy must always – ALWAYS – have two epinephrine auto-injectors on-hand everywhere, all the time. For children, the parent/guardian/caregiver must ensure that epinephrine is always within ready access of the child, that the child (if old enough) is trained to self-administer, and that each person responsible for the child throughout the day is trained to recognize the symptoms of anaphylaxis and how to administer the epinephrine in an emergency.
Next, understand that any restaurant, cafeteria or other food establishment that handles a specific allergen in their kitchen carries a high risk that that allergen will be present in their food, either as an ingredient or as a cross-contaminant. That risk is further compounded in an environment where diners serve themselves, such as a buffet. Always ask the management whether your specific allergen is used in the kitchen. If it is, we strongly urge you to avoid that establishment and find another.
Last but not least, this story drives home the need for epinephrine to be available everywhere, in schools and places of public accommodation, as well as the passage of Good Samaritan laws that shield responders from liability when they administer epinephrine in good faith. While we are heartened by the recent passing of the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act and the stock epinephrine bills making their way through many state legislatures, more needs to be done to ensure epinephrine is as readily accessible in an emergency as cardiac defibrillators.
Please reach out to your legislators and insist they do more.
As a reminder to ALWAYS bring the auto-injectors along, click a graphic below for a set of flyers from our “Take 2″ campaign and be sure to display them at home and school:
Please read, I have a severe iodine allergy and i live in thev South, every other restaurant serves seafood and a chef advised me that stocks contain seafood and people dont think about that#
That is HORRIBLE this is my wordt fear to losr my 3 year old son my heart aches so much right now I cs n t stop crying this is s parents biggest fear and the worst thing that can happen im so sorry shame on thst pharmacy they should of worried about tge the prescription lster who the heck asks for a epi pen unless its needed
Thank You for this article. It is definetly a “lightBulb” moment again. I too have a child with peanut allergies, not a old as the child in this article but I have noticed because of this article that I lately have been a little more laxed in caution.What happened is truely tragic in every way. On this first day of the new year, my New years resoulution is an All Years Resolution… to be even more visualent than ever ,when it comes to allergens.
There are so many things about this tragic event that both sadden and frustrate me. This family KNEW their child had a life threatening food allergy, took her out to a restaurant to eat-a chinese buffet no less which nearly ALWAYS has nut products and did not carry her epinephrine nor did they inquire about the food prior to eating it. Satay sauce is made with peanuts..that is what it is- Thai peanut sauce. She ate a clearly marked product which by defination has peanuts in it, did not carry her Epi Pen, did not call an emergency number and state a life threatening food allergy was involved or help may have come faster. There is not a pharmacy in the world that would have dispensed that medication without a prescription-going that route made no sense to me, nor did walking to the hospital. The headline implies this was the pharmacies fault, it wasn’t! Something happens to children and their families when they become pre-teens and teenagers. They get lax. They have gone years and years being careful, have made it through to this point and they let their guard down. All it takes it is ONE time, just one time of being lax, of forgetting to ask, of forgetting to carry. You cannot let your guard down, not for one minute, not ever, not unless you have TESTED negative for your allergy and your doctor states you are no longer allergic. You can’t assume, you can’t know what is in a product with absolute certainty unless you make it yourself in your own home. ASK, READ, carry your medication at all times, make sure it is not expired. Your life is literally in your own hands.
Sorry to burst your bubble, but if I would have a child with such a severe allergy I would make sure I ALWAYS would have the antidote with me if we would go out eating together – so in case she forgets it herself (why on Earth would you leave that responsibility to a 14-year old?). So mom is guilty of being a bad mother. Furthermore, I just wonder what the words “contains nuts” would mean on the menu? The chemist is a criminal, of course, but so is the mom. She is just a lousy mom, so all her tears are hypocrite – she is just as guilty as the chemist is….
My husband has had a life-threatening tree nut allergy for over 6 decades, and I have been in the picture for over 2/3 of that time. In the past, we were occasionally lax, and were also given some misguided info on whether people with certain health conditions should use epinephrine. We read EVERYTHING! Tree nuts appear in the strangest things. We do not expect someone else to be responsible, regardless of letting people know of his allergy. People without allergies, those who are not trained to understand the risk, and those without loved ones with allergies do not understand. We have learned the botanical names, especially in skin, hair care and essential oil products. There are diaper rash creams our kids avoided using on our grands due to the potential for exposure. Again, life has inherent risks, but you have to take responsibility for YOURSELF, and your family, to mitigate what you can. We now carry his Epi-pen with us everywhere due to potential risk from nut oil residue in hand lotion on a door handle, to an errant nut in a dish expressly made without nuts, things happen. In this day and age you can search the internet for sites like this, and others, with comprehensive lists of things you may not realize could contain specific allergens. Of course you have to use common sense, as well as research, because certain ethnic foods/dishes/restaurants are more inclined to use something like tree nuts in their food. It is hard to navigate food allergies, but it would be far harder to live with the knowledge that we did not take it seriously enough and it was at the expense of my husband’s life.