Last week Israel was shocked with the news of a 23-year-old woman with a milk allergy dying suddenly because of an allergic reaction. She was eating out in a kosher meat restaurant. Kosher restaurants have an obligation not to bring anything containing dairy into the restaurant.
The young woman ordered a desert with whipped cream, assuming it didn’t contain dairy because the restaurant was kosher and could not serve dairy with meat. The restaurant had run out of whipped cream, so they ran out to a store to buy more. The restaurant staff didn’t make sure that it was parve (and didn’t contain milk), and they served it to her.
The victim started experiencing an allergic reaction. She did not carry an EpiPen on her because she has been to the restaurant before, and she never had an issue. She has also worked in a restaurant before, and she trusted them. The restaurant also did not have an EpiPen, so the young woman didn’t get help in time. She was rushed to the hospital and declared dead within a few minutes.
The most severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) cause difficulty breathing, vomiting, and even death. An allergic reaction can happen almost immediately after exposure to an allergen. An allergic reaction can be treated with an EpiPen. An EpiPen contains epinephrine and helps to relax the respiratory system. EpiPens can save thousands of lives and prevent allergic reactions that can end in death.
Israel has little awareness when it comes to allergies. Most people don’t realize the severity of allergies and are life-threatening even from trace amounts of the allergen in the food. Sadly, this story brought the question of whether restaurants and stores should have EpiPen’s available at all times.
Most stores are required to have an emergency medical kit on them. So why not have an EpiPen? The Israeli government submitted a bill stipulating that every restaurant in Israel will have an EpiPen as part of the conditions for obtaining a business license. Having an EpiPen in stores and restaurants can save many lives and prevent anything like this from happening again.
How do you store an EpiPen?
EpiPen’s or an Epinephrine injection is a lifesaving medication for the treatment of anaphylaxis. EpiPen’s can be problematic if they aren’t stored properly. Even a small exposure to heat or cold temperatures can cause EpiPen’s to deactivate. EpiPen needs to be stored at room temperature - 20-25°C (68-77 °F). However, temperature excursions between 15-30 ºC (59-86 ºF) are okay.
Therefore, you shouldn’t leave an EpiPen in the car or cold rooms. It would help if you tried to carry it on you in a clear case (so it's visible in case of an emergency).
How can I tell if the EpiPen is deactivated? There should be a “replace” area on the EpiPen that has a clear square on it (see image). If the square is clear, that means that the EpiPen is fine for use. However, if the square is discolored or unclear, then it needs to be replaced. Generally, EpiPen’s need to be replaced every 12-18 months.
Can restaurants afford and maintain an EpiPen?
Restaurants are on a tight budget, and they would need to make sure that the EpiPen’s are still good for use. EpiPen’s cost around 250 shekels, and there are often shortages in Israel. While 250 shekels might not seem like a lot of money, if the EpiPen’s aren’t stores properly or if they expire, then they need to be replaced often.
Restaurants who want to hold an EpiPen in case of an emergency need to make sure that they maintain it properly. Otherwise, it will be ineffective. We can only hope that people learn from his tragic accident and carry an EpiPen and possibly save lives!
During our recent visit to Israel, we really struggled to find food for our son who has anaphylactic level allergies to egg and sesame. We approached both restaurants and hotels and were told they were unable or unwilling to take responsibility for preparing his food.
After learning about Dr. Eliana on-line, we contacted her in the hopes that she could provide a ‘normal’ restaurant experience for our family.
Both she and Shani were meticulous in their preparations with the restaurants to ensure that our son had a wonderful and safe experience.
We truly appreciate their efforts to take care of our son, and to provide us with a lovely vacation experience.
T.M., Chicago, USA
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the amazing gift you have given us over this Pesach- the gift of having you with us!!!!
We have NEVER felt more comfortable, calm, and at ease than we did these past 10 days. Your warmth, professionalism, kindness, and care shown through in all that you did.
My children are so grateful that they were able to be with you this Pesach. You made sure that they were so well looked after and they felt so at ease and comfortable with you! You were so amazing and approachable to them! And they LOVED all the food you so amazingly prepared (supervised allergy-free food preparation, managed menus) for them!
It’s very difficult for us to trust people when it comes to our kids and allergies. You magically were able to take away ALL of our anxieties, and nervousness (and we don’t give that away so easily!!)
We can never fully thank you enough. We truly feel that you instantly became part of our family and we look forward to G-d willing being able to be with you and plan amazing trips with you many many many more times!!!!
Thank you and may Hashem bless you for the work you do. My son Jacob said your allergy card has been very helpful. I am so grateful- beyond words.
L.R., NY, NY
Thank you for delivering our allergy free baked goods to our hotel. We just tasted the focaccia and it was delicious!
All the best,
S.C., New Jersey
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T.G., Philadelphia, PA
"Food Allergy Concierge assisted us with a very helpful, detailed customized allergy card in Hebrew. The Allergy card was extremely helpful for multiple allergies and allowed us to eat safely in several eateries and hotels. Highly recommended.”
G.A. Illinois USA
My family ordered a week's worth of food from Food Allergy Concierge during the most recent lockdown. Having the food on hand, and knowing that it was safe for everyone in the family to eat, helped turn the lockdown into a stay-cation! We were still able to take a break from cooking and worrying, and we look forward to using FAC's services again in the future.