The hidden dangers in our food
Allergies Food allergens are life threatening to those who have a severe allergy to them. Ian Negus explains why it's better to err on the site of caution.
Ian Negus (a member of the Anaphylaxis Campaign) has a severe peanut allergy. Ian had a terrifying experience in one of his local restaurants in North London.
Ian explains; “I ordered a special from the board. First misjudgement. It was a tuna kebab with rice and I was in an “exotic” mood. The dish did not say if it contained nuts or not as it wasn’t specified on the board. When the dish was presented it looked great. However, accompanying the dish (on the plate), was a sauce. My first immediate instinct was “this could be nuts.” So without hesitation I got up and approached the chef and waitress behind the counter. I asked the chef if the dish had nuts in it. He didn’t reply but the waitress did and said it didn’t contain nuts. That it was a mix of oil and balsamic vinegar. I sat back down and picked up the sauce, sniffed it and ran a fork through it. The consistency felt different. Here I made a crucial error. I did not trust my instincts. After a long flight back from Sao Paulo, being in an “exotic” mood and feeling very hungry I applied a tiny dab to my tuna and rice and ate it.
Immediately my lips swelled, my throat was closing up and my heart was racing. I got up with the sauce and asked another waitress if this had nuts in. “Yes its peanut satay!” Subsequently an ambulance arrived, I was given steroids, I was put on a nebuliser and I spent 7 hours in A&E under observation. Well I’m here to share this with you thanks to quick responses from the NHS. I did not have my adrenaline auto-injector with me and as the ambulance arrived within a couple of minutes I was treated without the need for adrenalin.”
Ian was very lucky that he received prompt medical care and recovered, this could have been a tragedy.
Some stats about food allergies
- 6–8 % of children have a proven food allergy
- 2-4% of adults have a food allergy
- Cases of peanut allergy alone have tripled in the last decade
- UK hospital admissions for food allergies have increased by 500% since 1990
- Every year around 20 people in the UK will die from anaphylaxis (about 10 of these from food)