Inquest: Man with Tree Nut Allergy Died After a Single Bite of a Dish He Knew Contained Almonds


An inquest was convened today to investigate the death of Joseph Higginson, 27, a mechanic from Greater Manchester, UK, who died in 2022 after eating a mouthful of a dish he ordered for a family dinner. He had eaten the dish, which contained almonds, before.

The coroner indicated the restaurant ‘clearly indicated’ the dish was made with almonds and had provided all the correct allergy information they were required to.

Higginson was aware of his allergies, having tested positive via skin prick test for allergies to peanuts, tree nuts including almonds, and coconut just a few months earlier. Upon his diagnosis, he was given an epinephrine auto-injector and guidance on anaphylaxis.

His sister, Emily Higginson, testified that he had been hospitalized in April of 2022 but didn’t always take his allergies seriously.

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On December 28, 2022, Higginson ordered Butter Chicken takeout from the restaurant for a family meal. After taking a bite, he stood up suddenly, ran to the kitchen sink, then rushed upstairs.

His sister administered his auto-injector, but the dose was insufficient to halt the progression of symptoms. He subsequently collapsed, suffering cardiac arrest.

A family member called emergency services who also gave him epinephrine and administered CPR before he was transported to Royal Bolton Hospital. He died there a few days later, on January 4.

Dr Philip Lumb, a pathologist, stated that Higginson suffered an ‘immediate allergic reaction’ as soon as he put the chicken in his mouth.

Police, who had initiated a procedural investigation, found no adulterants in the food and determined the restaurant was not at fault.

Higginson is due to posthumously receive The Order of St John Award for his organ donation.

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Said his sister, Emily:

People with allergies should always take the situation seriously. It is not something that can be taken for granted – the severity can change throughout a person’s lifetime.

He has donated his heart as per his wishes and a kidney. We know they are alive and well and that the transplants were successful.

Coroner Julie Mitchell recorded a verdict of misadventure.

She stated the restaurant clearly indicated the dish contained almonds and said Higginson was ‘well aware’ it was a ‘risky food for him to consume’ but he chose the meal because he had ‘tolerated’ it before – as well as almonds.

She said:

He was aware that the meal he consumed contained almonds. Given that Joe deliberately ate the dish knowing that it contained almonds and knowing that it was a risky food for him to consume, I am satisfied that this is a misadventure death.

We send Emily and the Higginson family our sincerest condolences for their loss and hope the close of the inquest brings them some measure of closure.

This is yet another death from anaphylaxis that could have been avoided. As we always do, we look at ways the allergic community can protect itself from similar tragedies.

Understand that a food allergy diagnosis is not to be taken lightly. Although you might have tolerated your allergen or had a minor reaction in the past, the next reaction could be far more severe, even life-threatening. YOU MUST ALWAYS AVOID YOUR ALLERGENS unless you pass an oral food challenge administered by a trained medical professional, period, full-stop.

We urge you to avoid ordering from establishments where your allergen is used unless you have discussed your allergies with management and are comfortable your allergies can be safely accommodated. if you are not convinced, don’t order.

Last but not least, we don’t know how long it took from the time Joseph realized he was suffering a reaction until his sister administered his auto-injector. We do know that epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis, but it must be administered soon after onset to work best.

We urge all readers who have been prescribed epinephrine to always take two auto-injectors along everywhere, every time, and to administer one when anaphylaxis is first suspected. If symptoms do not subside after a few minutes, administer the second while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

Source: A single mouthful of a curry killed a man — Manchester Evening News
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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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