A 26-year-old woman died after unknowingly eating Nutella at a restaurant in Tel Aviv. The headlines from this unfortunate death, caused by the woman’s severe peanut allergy, have ignited a conversation about whether there is enough being done to protect those with food allergies.
The death of Chen Efrat has reminded us of the serious nature of food allergies, causing health authorities to begin raising awareness of the prevalence of such allergies in an attempt to get more people to take the issue seriously.
Efrat, who knew that she had a peanut allergy, reportedly asked the restaurant server repeatedly to check whether the Belgian waffle’s chocolate topping was Nutella, which contains peanuts. She was assured that it was peanut-free, but was rushed to the hospital immediately after eating the dessert, and died several days later. Her parents have just filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, alleging that the waiter should not have assured their daughter that the dessert was safe.
Allergy awareness is tricky in Israel, where most babies’ first food is Bamba, corn puffs covered in peanut butter. The country’s Ministry of Health currently requires products containing the eight most common food allergens to include ‘contains’ or ‘may contain’ labeling. Following Efrat’s death, steps are now being taken to require clearer and more noticeable allergy warnings, similar to those found in other countries. Although there are no plans to require restaurants to list allergen warnings on the menu, Israel does plan to produce a guide to help allergen sufferers navigate restaurants and other sources of non-packaged foods.