Osher Deri, a 23-year-old woman from Hatzor Haglilit, ordered ice cream at the Rahamim Simcha & Sons Kosher Restaurant in Rosh Pina, Northern Israel. Due to kosher dietary restrictions where meat and dairy cannot be served together, Ms Deri assumed the ice cream was pareve, meaning the desert was dairy and meat-free and as such can be served with either a dairy or meat meal.
She began to feel ill and was rushed to nearby Ziv Medical Center. Doctors declared her death shortly after arrival.
Police opened an investigation into the incident, shut down the restaurant, and detained five employees, including the owner and the chef, on suspicion of negligent homicide.
They determined that earlier in the day, the 19-year-old chef had noticed that they had run out of ice cream and had a co-worker run to the store and purchase more. That employee allegedly bought dairy ice cream by mistake.
The suspects were released to house arrest after law enforcement determined that they had not acted intentionally.
The report from The Times of Israel stated that Ms Deri did not have an epinephrine auto-injector with her at the time of the incident.
Said her mother [translated by Google Translate from Hebrew]:
She knew she was supposed to be safe in this restaurant. She would not take any risks. She was born allergic and she lives with it on a daily basis. There is no chance she would risk her life. She had been to this place before and they know her and know she is allergic to milk.
Our hearts go out to Osher’s family who are coping with an unspeakable loss. We wish them much strength and solace in the days to come. Her loss is the allergic community’s loss.
As we do whenever we report on such tragedies, we look for learning opportunities to help prevent future occurrences in the allergic community.
First and foremost, always take 2 epinephrine auto-injectors along everywhere, every time. Whether you are out walking the dog or visiting a restaurant you have dined at safely many times before, you never know when you could be inadvertently exposed to your allergen of concern. Epinephrine is a life saver and should always be within your reach.
Second, we remind you that kosher designations are similar to those “may contain” type precautionary allergen warnings in that they can warn you when a product is NOT safe for your milk allergy — such as when the product bears a “kosher dairy” symbol — but are not reliable to determine whether the product IS safe. This is because a kosher designation may still allow trace quantities of milk to be present, enough to set off a serious anaphylactic reaction.