I’m sure many of you have seen this story over the past several days. Another terrible tragedy for our entire community: the loss of 15 year old, Natasha Ednan-Laperhouse, due to undeclared sesame found in a baguette.
As a nurse, I try to review these cases, in a way to learn from them. For me, it’s one way to honor this beautiful life gone too soon, with the hopes of saving others. I have the utmost respect for these families, who choose to share their most private and sacred grief, to simply help us all. They show such grace and courage during the most difficult time one could ever imagine.
This news sheds light on labeling loopholes, as many are calling it. I believe we must do better! From the Allergic Living article linked above:
“However, as with North American regulations, the EU offers a loophole for foods that are made and wrapped fresh daily. These are not considered “pre-packaged,” so are not required to be labeled individually for allergens and ingredients. (At Pret stores, an allergen guide is kept, but a customer has to ask for it.)”
This family is so brave to speak out.
Here, this “made fresh daily” sandwich contained sesame inside the bread. Nowhere on the label did it show sesame in the ingredients.
Because this was a store made/ shop made item, they followed the law.
Because the teen did not see sesame seeds on the roll, she thought it was ok to eat.
I agree with this family: We need ingredient labeling on all foods.
Also, did you know in the USA, sesame does not need to be declared in the ingredients?
You heard that right.
Sesame can be a hidden ingredient in natural flavorings and spices.
It is a beast of an allergen to manage.
The allergic community has been lobbying hard to make sesame the Top 9th allergen, as explained in this Allergic Living article. Yet these efforts have not been successful. Meanwhile, we’re hearing more and more about people being allergic to sesame.
Here are my takeaways:
1. Let’s stand together and close these labeling loopholes.
2. Help to get sesame labeled as the Top 9th allergen in the USA by contacting your representatives and signing petitions for this effort.
3. Please review these facts about labeling laws with your kids, teens and young adults. Remind them:
- All food must be vetted for its safety: Speak up. Ask for ingredients. Ask how the food is prepared. Do not feel bad about this, your life depends on this knowledge!
4. When flying, please pack your own meals. Flying is a very different scenario than being on the ground. If you’re not 100% sure, do not eat it.
5. Never be afraid to use your epinephrine FIRST if suspecting anaphylaxis, especially when symptoms begin right after eating.
I am so glad this has been drilled into my brain by my child’s allergist. This young lady received two doses of epinephrine, and it still wasn’t enough. She first took antihistamines when her throat began to itch. 35 min later she received her first epinephrine, when she began to feel worse & had difficulty breathing, according to the article.
Time is of the essence with anaphylaxis. Every second counts in your rapid response.
I do not know of this would have made any difference for this young lady. I’m not trying to say that. There are no guarantees.
To me, this is another reminder that anaphylaxis is a wildfire and is unpredictable. Please try to put it out ASAP with Epinephrine FIRST. Do not waste precious time with Benadryl, as antihistamines do not stop anaphylaxis.
- Go over this with your allergist and create an Allergy & Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan.
Thinking of everyone and Natasha’s beautiful family and friends with a very heavy heart, as we read through all of this very sad news.
I’m thankful for all of those advocates in our community, working so hard everyday, to make our world a safer place.
People should not die because of food.
Until there’s a cure. We won’t stop advocating.