In Memory of Anna Bellisario


A 21-year-old fashion design student with milk and egg allergies has died after spending ten days in a coma.

Anna Bellisario and her boyfriend were dining at a vegan restaurant in Milan where none of the ingredients were supposed to contain milk, eggs, or meat.

After their main course, Ms Bellisario ordered a ready-made vegan tiramisu for dessert after having a restaurant staffer show her the ingredients on the packaging according to her boyfriend. The label warned of the possible presence of nuts but not of her allergens of concern.

After having just two spoonfuls, she began feeling symptoms of a serious reaction including coughing, hives, and difficulty breathing. She hurried to the bathroom to make herself vomit to no avail.

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She was reported as having taken her allergy medications although whether they included epinephrine is unknown.

She fell unconscious and was brought to nearby San Raffaele Hospital on Sunday, February 5. After spending ten days in a coma, she died. The suspected cause of death is anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance.

The Italian Ministry of Health recalled the dessert from 63 restaurants all over the country where traces of milk protein were found in other glasses of the same brand of dessert. Traces of egg were also found in the supposed vegan mayonnaise used in the sandwich that Ms Bellisario had as an entree.

Prosecutors from Milan have opened a manslaughter probe into the restaurant owner and the manufacturer of the dessert.

The product, marketed as ‘Tiramisun’, was withdrawn from the market due to the risk of allergen-trace not indicated on the label.

An autopsy will be performed in the coming days.

Yet another young person — the fourth we have reported in a month — has succumbed to anaphylaxis. According to all newspaper accounts, she was vigilant regarding her allergies, careful to dine at vegan eateries and read the labels of packaged goods. Still, it was not enough.

We mourn the loss of Anna Bellisario and our hearts go out to her family and friends. At this time of unimaginable grief, we send them our deepest condolences and wish them solace.

We remind our readers that there is only one drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis: epinephrine. It is a miraculous life-saving drug when the unthinkable happens, but it can’t help you if you don’t have it on hand when you need it.

If you have been prescribed epinephrine, it’s because you are at risk. Be sure to take two auto-injectors along everywhere, every time, and to administer one immediately when you suspect anaphylaxis, then call emergency services.

Remember, the sooner you take epinephrine in an anaphylactic emergency, the better the outcome.

We also remind you that as in Italy, allergen labeling regulations in the US do not require manufacturers to include precautionary allergen label warnings like “May contain…” or “Made on equipment that also processes…” as their inclusion on the label is entirely voluntary. Some manufacturers provide them, many don’t, and others warn for some allergens and not for others. Click here for more information.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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