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Archive for the ‘Food Allergies’ Category

Pret A Manger and Restaurant Liability For Food Allergy Injuries

Restaurants can be held responsible for food allergy injuries and deaths, so it is important that they provide accurate information to food-allergic consumers. Thanks to @marketwatch for the opportunity to discuss these issues.

Pret a Manger

Image credit: Getty Images

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Legislators Question Epi-Pen Price Spikes


Image Credits: Mylan (R), New York Times

Following up on my posting about why Epi-Pen prices have increased 5-6X in 12 years, the New York Times reports that a bipartisan group of legislators is questioning the basis for these price spikes.

As the medicine and injection technology have not changed in years, consumers have also started an on-line petition to Stop the Epi Pen Price Gouging.

Mylan’s virtual monopoly limits access to life-or-death medication and disproportionately redistributes public dollars for private gain.

Why Have EpiPen Costs Spiked 5-6X in 12 Years?

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Image Credit: Mylan(R)

Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli isn’t the only one charging new prices for old medicine. It appears that Mylan, the manufacturer of the EpiPen, has increased the price of its emergency epinephrine injection 5-6X over the last 12 years, according to this article in Slate.

It is true that EpiPen can be a lifesaver in a food allergy emergency that causes anaphylaxis. However, this was also true 12 years ago, and it appears that the technology and medication have changed little in the interim.

So what changed? Marketing that turned this modest medication into a billion-dollar profit center. (Mylan offers a co-pay coupon for prescriptions, but many people still pay too high a price and risk their lives with cheaper and riskier ways to inject emergency epinephrine.)

Hopefully, Teva (and other generic drug companies) will soon be able to market a safe and (cost) effective alternative for the captive market of anaphylactic consumers.

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“Natural” Food and Artificial Injustice – Toward a Fair Liability Standard

Please see my recently-published article in Plaintiff Magazine regarding the liability standards that apply in California for food-related personal injuries.

The Mexicali Rose decision allows plaintiffs to state some previously non-cognizable negligence claims against restaurants that serve injury-causing food.  Mexicali Rose v. Sup. Ct. (Clark), 1 Cal.4th 617, 621 (1992) (“Mexicali Rose”).  However, if the injury resulted from a substance that was “natural to the preparation of the food,” then strict liability and breach of warranty claims remain barred.  Id. at 630.

In light of food processing and safety changes that have occurred since this 1992 decision, the artificial, vague, and unworkable distinction between foreign and purportedly natural substances should be overruled.  A fair measure of justice should be available for all consumers, based on their reasonable expectations for the food served.

Food Fraud: More Than Just Economic Injury

Do you really know what kind of fish you’re eating?” And why that’s such an important question?

As recently reported in Food Safety News, food fraud (by way of species substitution) presents more than a risk of ripping off consumers.  Pregnant women may be unwittingly exposed to toxins, gastric distress, and allergens from consuming seafood that is not what it purports to be.  Honest employees of fishing companies, distributors, and retailers that sell genuine products can lose sales and their jobs.

U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) recently asked the FDA to increase its efforts to reduce seafood mislabeling.  For bad actors, increased “traceability and enforcement . . . from bait to plate” presents risks of criminal prosecution and civil damages from class action litigation.  However, for seafood companies that adopt best practices, it also provides promotional and marketing opportunities.

Childhood Food Allergy Prevalence Higher than Previously Estimated

The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics published a new study today which concluded that “the prevalence and severity of childhood food allergy is greater than previously reported.”  Some six million children in the U.S. have food allergies, and almost 40 percent of food allergy reactions are “severe.”

Although there is some research indicating that a novel food processing method may reduce peanut allergenicity, until there is a highly-effective treatment or cure for food allergies, food-allergic consumers must avoid foods that cause their reactions.

When accommodating a food-allergic consumer, restaurants may want to consider whether their staff are aware of not just the potentially life-threatening allergic reactions, but also some persistent myths about food allergies.  Troublingly, some people believe that eating just a little bit of an allergic food may be okay, or that cooking makes a food less allergenic.

Restaurants and retail foodservice providers that can successfully implement risk management plans can increase their sales and meet their customers’ requests for safer food.

Restaurants: Have You Considered Food Allergy Awareness Week as a Business Opportunity?

Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 8-14, 2011. 

Have you considered whether this is an opportunity for your restaurant to reach out to the community of food-allergic consumers?  If not, why not?  Food-allergic consumers are loyal, repeat customers.  Restaurants that accommodate them can grow their business.

Perhaps your staff are not sufficiently trained to handle requests from allergic customers?  The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network and the National Restaurant Association published Welcoming Guests with Food Allergies, a free guide to help restaurants train staff to serve food safely to their food-allergic patrons.