Alert for al­ler­gies

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - BRIGID O'CON­NELL HEALTH RE­PORTER

FIF­TEEN food shops have been put on no­tice in just two months as au­thor­i­ties clamp down on op­er­a­tors putting peo­ple with al­ler­gies at risk.

One item was also re­moved from shops, with Vic­to­ria’s health boss warn­ing ven­dors who failed to recog­nise the se­ri­ous­ness of ana­phy­laxis faced se­ri­ous con­se­quences.

About 50 cases of ana­phy­laxis — half caused by food — a week have been re­ported by hos­pi­tals to the Depart­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices since manda­tory re­port­ing was in­tro­duced in Novem­ber.

Vic­to­ria's act­ing chief health of­fi­cer Dr Brett Sut­ton, said the new sys­tem would make food premises more alert about the se­ri­ous­ness of al­ler­gic re­ac­tions.

It would also help coun­cils get on top of safety risks at shops in their mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“There have been in­stances in­ter­na­tion­ally where there have been prose­cu­tions be- cause peo­ple do have a duty of care, es­pe­cially for known ana­phy­laxis,” Dr Sut­ton said.

“Ser­vice providers need to be aware they have ab­so­lutely got an obli­ga­tion to make sure some­one doesn’t get ex­posed to that health risk.”

Of the cases of ana­phy­laxis recorded, 284 were food-re­lated, 74 re­ac­tions to drugs or medicine, and 72 were from in­sect venom.

Prob­lem cafes and restau­rants were fol­lowed up by their lo­cal coun­cils to en­sure they had proper practices to deal with food al­ler­gens.

Dr Sut­ton said he was not al­lowed to name the food re­called as part of the crackdown.

About 10 Aus­tralians die from ana­phy­lac­tic re­ac­tions each year.

Al­lergy & Ana­phy­laxis Aus­tralia na­tional pres­i­dent Maria Said told the Sun­day Her­ald Sun: “We’ve long been seen as the al­lergy cap­i­tal in the world.

“Ev­ery­one is alarmed at the num­bers of ana­phy­lac­tics.

“It’s ironic that we have manda­tory RSA (re­spon­si­ble ser­vice of al­co­hol) cer­tifi­cates for peo­ple serv­ing al­co­hol, how­ever we don’t have manda­tory cer­tifi­cates in food al­lergy.”

Manda­tory re­port­ing of ana­phy­lac­tic re­ac­tions was in­tro­duced fol­low­ing the death of 10-year-old boy Ronak Warty, who suf­fered a fa­tal re­ac­tion to a co­conut drink with an un­de­clared milk in­gre­di­ent.

The im­ported drink re­mained on shelves for six weeks af­ter his death be­cause the hos­pi­tal did not no­tify the health depart­ment.

Ex­perts said com­pul­sory train­ing was needed for food servers and chefs re­gard­ing the po­ten­tially fa­tal dan­gers of cross-con­tam­i­na­tion.

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