Allergies can be life-threatening

Allergic Reactions

Allergies and anaphylaxis can be great cause of concern in the hospitality industry.Allergens causing anaphylaxis

Talking to the manager of an expensive and exclusive restaurant recently, he related a story that nearly ended in catastrophe.

Jenny, the wife of a customer who has known allergies had phoned to book a table for his 50th birthday.


She explained, “I’m really worried, it’s my husband John’s birthday celebration, but he has serious allergies to peppers, nuts and celery, so I need to know what items on the menu, he should avoid.”

Although the restaurant menu had explicit descriptions of allergens, the manager decided the safest plan was to let the customer talk to the chef.

After a careful discussion of her requirements they agreed an adapted menu would be provided on the day. Satisfied with the outcome the table was booked for the 4 guests, to Jenny’s delight.

The day arrived, and as promised chef greeted the group in the bar, where he delivered his specially created menu, quickly followed by the sommelier with the wine list.

Orders placed, the group went through to their table and began their meal.

The sommelier arrived shortly after with their selected wine, and everyone was chatting and enjoying the evening.

“Help me?” was the next thing anybody heard. John stood up having difficulty to breathe, his mouth and tongue swelling and his eyes red and itching.

Fortunately, his wife immediately identified what was happening. John was having a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and she got him to lay down on the floor, before he collapsed.

What to do

“Someone dial 999 to call an ambulance, and tell them John’s having an anaphylactic reaction”, she shouted.

She started searching John’s pockets for the adrenaline auto injector he always carries.

Epipen auto injector
Epipen auto injector

Auto injectors come in several brands such as Epipen or Jext.

Using them is basically the same, remove the cap and punch the needle end hard into the top of the thigh, straight through the clothing. It’s important to hold it in place for ten seconds and then massage the area for a further ten seconds.

The ambulance crew arrived shortly after and took over John’s care. If he hadn’t responded to the adrenaline, Jenny may have needed to give a second dose with another injector, often carried by the patient too, or if he’d stopped breathing start CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation).

After John had been despatched to hospital, the restaurant started to investigate. How after so much care with the menu  could this happen? What had they inadvertently served, that had caused such a severe allergic reaction?

Subsequent tests for John, revealed he had an undiagnosed allergy to sulphites in the red wine he’d been drinking.Sulphite Allergens

If you work in the hospitality industry or have relatives and friends with allergies.

You really should consider one of our training courses, either general CPR life saving skills or Anaphylaxis Management.

Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening condition.

 Find out and book one of our courses here