Anaphylactic shock and your food business

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What is anaphylactic shock and why do you need to know about it if you work in the catering industry?

This extremely serious medical issue arises when a person experiences an allergic reaction in its most dangerous form.

It can be life threatening and sadly, people do die from anaphylactic shock.

The sufferer’s immune system reacts to a substance that it views as a threat to wellbeing and a rush of chemicals is released to combat this threat which causes swelling in the blood vessels and often a drop in blood pressure follows.

It only takes a tiny amount of the allergen to cause anaphylactic shock.


Many people associate prophylactic shock with nuts but it occurs with seafood, dairy and eggs. Allergy sufferers thrive within every food group.

Incredibly and worryingly, the amount of people who suffer from a food allergy has doubled in just 10 years and a 2011 survey by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence found that 6-8% of children in the UK have a food allergy.

In excess of 12500 people are admitted to Accident and Emergency with anaphylactic shock per annum. Please don’t let that be one of your customers.

As a food preparation professional, manufacturer, retailer or waiting staff it is imperative to be able to ensure the safety of your customers.

That doesn’t mean you have to jump through proverbial hoops but it does mean acquiring knowledge, working within legislation and labeling food and listing ingredients correctly.

Health and safety training through expert professionally accredited training firms like the London based Food Alert prepares employees for the everyday safe running of their workplace and how to identify issues for their benefit and for their customers.

A health and safety auditor visit or when a person experiences a frightening allergic reaction is not the correct time to address health and safety in catering responsibilities. Now, prior to any event, is.

We all know that health resources are strained in the UK, allergic reactions account for a large amount of time and treatment.

A 2004 research inquiry in to the provision of allergy services stated that over £68 million was spent annually on hospital admissions from allergies.

How many of those could have been prevented by careful attention being paid by service providers and caterers?

As mentioned, the numbers of prophylactic shock cases and allergy suffers keeps rising so in the last twelve years the toll on the N.H.S. has been graver still.

If you’ve never witnessed the symptoms they are alarming:

  • Flushed skin, hives.
  • Throat and mouth swelling.
  • Difficulty in breathing, swallowing and talking.
  • Heart rate change and weakness.
  • Collapse/unconsciousness.
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea.

It’s much better to see them in a health and safety training format than in a real life situation.

Health and safety in catering lies in your hands, whether you are management, a supervisor or team member, everyone has a critical role to play.

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