Although you may not be directly affected by food allergies, there’s a good chance that you know someone that is. If it seems like food allergies are on the rise these days, it’s because they are. According to the organization F.A.R.E. (Food Allergies Research & Education), eight major food allergens – mike, egg, peanut, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish and crustacean shellfish – are responsible for most of the serious reactions in the United States, with upwards of 15 million Americans having food allergies. Nearly six million of those people are children, which is one in 13 kids or approximately two in every classroom.
The reactions can be very serious, if not fatal. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention note that the symptoms and severity of allergic reactions “can be different between individuals, and can also be different for one person over time. Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe allergic reaction that may cause death. Not all allergic reactions will develop into anaphylaxis.”
Not all, but many do.
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Restaurants and food manufacturers around the world are willing to serve and produce food that is allergen-free and will post disclaimers if a certain food product could have exposure to them. This is good news for millions and millions of people worldwide – especially parents!
Sajid Hussain’s son Zayaan has a severe dairy allergen but loves pizza. To allow Zayaan to enjoy the food he loves, Sajid makes sure to order everything as vegan, including pizza. This hasn’t been a problem in the past, but a Pizza Hut in the U.K. either ignored the instructions or made a simple mistake; either way, it nearly cost Zayaan his life.
“Even when we received the pizza, I wouldn’t let him eat it before reconfirming that it was definitely dairy-free. They said it was, so he ate the pizza,” Sajid said.
The employees at the Blackpool Pizza Hut assured Sajid that the pizza was vegan and safe for Zayaan to eat but after the toddler ate the vegan Margherita pizza, he went into anaphylactic shock – he couldn’t respond to his parents, had trouble breathing, and began vomiting.
“While I was on the phone, Zayaan was violently sick everywhere and when the paramedics arrived his oxygen levels were really low,” Sayid said. “It actually got worse as we got to the hospital. There were talks of him having to be resuscitated. Luckily my wife had the Epipens with her.”
A two-year-old boy with a life-threatening dairy allergy was rushed to hospital when staff at Pizza Hut, on Church Street, served him a non-vegan pizza by mistake.https://trib.al/xbpKdG2
Zayaan was hospitalized for two days following the pizza incident and although he is doing better, Sayid says he’s still “not quite himself.”
“There are no words to truly describe what we were thinking. It was a very, very traumatic experience and not one I would ever want to go through again,” Sayid added.
Sayid spoke directly to Piza Hut about the incident and also reported it to Environmental Health. The global pizza chain issued a statement, apologizing for the incident:
“We realize it was an unacceptable situation and have already completed an internal investigation with the Hut, which found that the wrong pizza was given to the family as a result of human error. We will share the full investigation findings with the Hussain family and are taking appropriate action at this restaurant to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
“The last thing I want is for someone else to be in that sort of situation. We managed to save our son, but other people might not be so lucky,” Sayid said.
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