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Family Sues Chinese Restaurant For Death Due To Allergy....

Sad story, but who is really at fault here? What's your opinion?

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/20...

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  1. My opinion only, the restaurant is at fault if indeed peanuts/peanut products were used after they were specifically asked not to use that ingredient. How sad. A life lost, and a reputation, ruined.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mamachef

      mamachef, although i see where the other side falls in their thinking, i have to agree with you too. as a parent to a child with multiple food allergies (egg, peanut, and tree nuts) we rarely eat out. but when we do we make sure the place will guarantee that there will be no cross contamination. this is a verbal agreement. i have yet to take a piece of paper for them to sign b/c when we agree, i expect them to hold up their end of the agreement. same for anything else. when i call to get a pizza delivered, i expect them to deliver it.

      when they say no peanut that means no peanut. not, whoops there's peanut in that dish lets pick it out. or whoops we used peanut oil. this cross contamination resulted in death not an just upset stomach.

      however, as a parent with an allergic child i would not have allowed him to eat chinese food. but allergies get tricky at a school age (we haven't reached that age yet) where kids get bullied and are left out b/c of their disability. we would only eat at somewhere like PF changs where they can assure this type of safety.

      this whole thing is so sad. i love food and believe we can learn so much from it but i wish we'd just take food out of the classrooms. we can celebrate in so many other ways.

      1. re: trolley

        As a person with very bad asthma and having a (somewhat odd) food allergy to Kiwi fruit - I will have an Anaphylactic reaction- I avoid ALL mixed fruit salads and all fruit dishes with fruit in it once I am told the restaurant serves kiwi. Yes, they tell me they won't put it in my food etc. but unless the establishment takes the time to wash all cutting boards, knives, spoons etc etc and make sure it touches nothing I am at risk. And I know restaurants are not prepared to do this. Now this is kiwi so it is far easier to avoid than peanuts a product that is often a "hidden" ingredient in many foods. If the peanuts were tossed into the dishes served then the restaurant was clearly grossly negligent and should be held liable but if it was cross contamination then I think not. Here's why: this is a restaurant doing high volume and most likely it is totally impossible to avoid cross contamination. we all know that peanut products are VERY common in Chinese food. How, unless specifically trained would the restaurant avoid that type of contamination or even understand that to safeguard this child they had to not only avoid direct infusion of peanuts into the food but take very particular precautions against any indirect addition of the dangerous product? I also do not understand a "peanut free" school choosing to bring in Chinese (or any Asian food for that matter) into such an environment. Surely, they understood the risk of cross contamination and could not possibly have thought that the restaurant would create the type of scrubbed free of cross contamination cooking environment to safeguard an allergic child. And I for one would never have permitted my allergic child to eat Chinese food in such an environment. This is a terrible tragedy and I feel for these parents and everyone involved but unless it can be demonstrated that the restaurant understood that "peanut free" required more than its simple direct elimination from its dishes I don't see how they are responsible. It appears more likely that the fault was with the parents and the school.

        1. re: Mangita

          Just to clarify, the school was not "peanut free" at the time of the incident.

    2. There were trace amounts of peanuts or peanut products, that could mean anything. I don't think the restaurant assumed this risk, rather the parents assumed the risk ... if your kid has a potentially deadly allergy to peanuts, it's best to keep him/her away from take out Chinese food.

      Unless the restaurant was negligent to the point of serving up some kung pao chicken with peanuts I don't see why they should be held responsible, it's not their job to police what the kid eats.

      5 Replies
      1. re: redfish62

        There are definitely inconsistencies in the written article. It notes *children* had allergies, yet no other child had the same reaction. It notes *peanut allergies*, suggesting more than one child had the same concerns as well, but no reaction. Like you note, the Chicago Board of Education sent out samples to the University of Nebraska Food Lab, and it was determined *trace* amounts of peanut or peanuts products....yet the attorney for the family say it was *heavily contaminated*.

        I'm on your side of the fence on this one.

        1. re: fourunder

          it notes that children had food allergies *including* a peanut allergy - so maybe the other kids are allergic to other foods, or are not as severely allergic to peanuts. IMO if you have a deadly allergy to something (as I do) you do whatever you need to do to avoid it, and to avoid foods that might be contaminated with it.
          To order chinese food and serve it to a kid with a peanut allergy is stupid, since peanut oil is used so prevalently in chinese cooking. did the parents not educate the child about the possibility of cross-contamination? did the school not send a permission slip home asking that the child be allowed to participate? and where was the child's epi pen?

          so many questions about this tragic situation, but I do not think they should be suing the restaurant.

          1. re: fourunder

            I am going to sit on this same side with you too. I grew up with a younger brother who was allergic to peanuts, wheat, eggs, chocolate, spinach, milk, chicken, and turkey, among other things. He would develop a severe asthma attack, depending upon the quantity consumed. You know what? Mom and Dad used to bring his food to parties, and, if in a restaurant, he was allowed to order a steak or some kind of plain pork product. They could never risk the consequences. Well meaning people are not necessarily as knowledgeable as the parents, who live with the issue daily and have had to learn how to cope. We couldn't even trust that a hamburger did not have filler that contained wheat -- what a mess. He eventually outgrew some of these allergies, but it was really clear, in those days at least, that if he might have to be rushed to the hospital ER, it was stupid to take chances. Chinese food, interestingly, was something he was able to eat, but usually only because he ate pepper steak or beef with brocolli and white rice. I guess the peanut oil that might have used in cooking was not a problem.

            My sympathies are with the parents and family, but the reality is that if your child might DIE from eating something that might be added to outside food, you can't risk the child eating it unless you were personally involved in the preparation. No one can take care of your own kid the way you can.

            Frankly, I put these food allergies, and I am talking her about the real ones -- not the convenient ones invented by the selfish idiots out there -- in the same category as having a kid with diabetes. You need to be extremely cautious.

            1. re: RGC1982

              "Frankly, I put these food allergies... in the same category as having a kid with diabetes. You need to be extremely cautious."

              The constraints of allergies and diabetes are really very different. With diabetes there is no single ingredient that will kill you quickly, even in large amounts. A little mistake will hurt you a little bit, whereas with a severe allergy, a little mistake can kill you. The tools for managing diabetes have improved over the last few decades, making 911-type emergencies much less likely. The physical damage due to diabetes is cumulative, so the issue is more with daily balancing than with avoiding specific foods, which is a different, and differently burdensome, issue. And nobody outgrows diabetes, so it's all about the long haul.

          2. re: redfish62

            I have to agree with you. Trace amounts of peanut products could quite possibly have cross-contaminated the utensils used to prepare peanut-free dishes. The parents should have realized that this could be a possibility.

            The school also didn't administer epinephrine. I wonder if the school will be sued as well?

          3. just based on the story as written...
            the food lab says "trace amounts"
            the lawyer says "heavily contaminated"
            and even tho the school knew ..it also says the epinephrine was not given...why not?

            just based on the story i wouldnt know who to blame...

            and was the chinese food the only food at the event?

            imo..not enough information to assign blame yet....

            a tragic event....none the less....

            2 Replies
            1. re: srsone

              Your observations are the same as mine.....

              1. re: srsone

                just based on the story i wouldnt know who to blame...
                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                The rare voice of reason is a welcome relief...

              2. IMO the onus is on the person with special dietary needs to go as far out of their way as possible to make sure that they're getting what they want. A place can only be so vigilant - how do they know that some product they use doesn't have trace peanut bits, or whatever it is that someone wants to avoid?

                People need to know what they can and can't eat and then make special arrangements. And by special arrangements I don't simply mean "ask them not to put peanuts in it"

                10 Replies
                1. re: jgg13

                  Completely agree with the burden being on the person with the issue.

                  I don't think they're liable.

                  1. Requests are meaningless unless you've got it on a contract all spelled out and signed.

                  2. Good luck proving that the source was from the restaurant.

                  1. re: ediblover

                    Ever hear of an oral contract? If you explicitly agree to make a peanut-free meal and then neglectfully or willfully serve peanuts that cause someone harm or death, you are most definitely liable, regardless of whether there is a written contract.

                    I agree with SRSone above - we don't have enough information to decide who is at fault (and to what extent) in this specific case.

                    1. re: cowboyardee

                      I've heard of it. And I laugh at it.

                      Was the conversation recorded? Doubtful.
                      Was there a guarantee (big factor) given by the restaurant? Doubtful.
                      Was there a third party witnessing the conversation? Doubtful.
                      Did the person making the agreement have authorization (another big one)? Doubtful.

                      Laughable. Waste of court's time.

                      1. re: ediblover

                        Oral contracts are harder to uphold in court. That doesn't mean that the restaurant is not liable or that this suit is without grounds - just that it's harder to prove if the restaurant denies that an agreement was made. Also, since this is a civil and not a criminal case, there is no requirement for proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

                        Wouldn't be laughable if it was your kid. Just sayin. Would be pretty damn far from laughable.

                        1. re: cowboyardee

                          Let's agree to disagree about some things, and just not go there, talking about our kids. G-d forbid.

                        2. re: ediblover

                          ediblover,

                          It really isn't laughable. A child died.

                          But to take your points one at a time:

                          >>>Was the conversation recorded? Doubtful.
                          Irrelevant. Oral contracts are enforceable regardless of whether they are recorded in any sort of medium. Course of conduct, industry practice, etc. can all create enforceable promises.

                          >>>Was there a guarantee (big factor) given by the restaurant? Doubtful.
                          Unknown from the facts given to us. Like I said previously upthread, the restauarnt may have guaranteed "no peanuts" but not have guaranteed "food prepared in a peanut-free environment" ... Big difference. Without discovery, we'll never know. Even with discovery, we may never know.

                          >>>Was there a third party witnessing the conversation? Doubtful.
                          Again, irrelevant. Don't need third-party witness to establish enforceable oral promises. See above.

                          >>>Did the person making the agreement have authorization (another big one)? Doubtful.
                          Even if the minimum-wage, high school worker manning the phones did not have authority, legal liability could most likely be established through the theory of apparent authority. In other words, if the owners of the restaurant held out that high school worker as someone who could speak on behalf of the restaurant and bind the restauarnt, then it is immaterial whether the high school worker had any actual authority.

                          Like alot of us have said before. Lots of things we don't know.

                          But one thing I think all of know is that this is not something that should be laughed at. A life was lost. Regardless of whose fault it was, that unmistakable, tragic fact can't be disputed.

                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            My response was to the verbal agreement situation, not the case specifics. A case where everything hinges on a verbal agreement with likely no guarantees, authority and evidence of, is a situation more muddling than a he said she said situation.

                            I'm all behind the restaurant.

                            1. re: ediblover

                              A case where everything hinges on a verbal agreement with likely no guarantees, authority and evidence of, is a situation more muddling than a he said she said situation.
                              _____________________

                              Huh? That's exactly what most he/she said situations are. It's why we have jury trials so that a jury can decide which side is more credible.

                              There is nothing legally infirm about a verbal agreement witnessed and allegedly executed only between the person making the offer and the person accepting the offer. Nor is it out of the norm.

                            2. re: ipsedixit

                              thanks ipse for being a voice of reason and making a lot of sense. a child dying is not laughable at all.

                          2. re: cowboyardee

                            An oral contract still has to have specific terms. As ipsedixit noted, for there to have been even a glimmer of a cause of action the fact that they needed food to have been prepared in a peanut-free environment would have had to have been specified. And I think that it would not be reasonable to assume that someone answering the phone has the authority to agree to something that could require extensive changes to not only the food but the operations of entire kitchen -- only the owner or the chef could do that.

                      2. Sorry, but if my child had a severe peanut allergy, they would not be eating catered school meals.

                        Id guess this is a case of Chinese restaurant owner/staff not understanding that even trace amounts of peanuts can cause a severe reaction-even death. Now he knows and likely wont forget. For better or worse, this is how our country rights its social wrongs.

                        1. While it's tragic that a child died, I have to agree that the parents need to accept responsibility for this. Peanuts and peanut oil are both very common in American Chinese food. If the child's allergy was that severe, the parents should have been aware of the potential risks, and erred on the side of caution by not having their child participate in this event, and at the very least made sure he had an epi-pen handy.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: TuteTibiImperes

                            Agreed. As unfortunate as it is, if one's allergy is life or death then they should not leave what they consume up to others, especially not an asian restaurant. Plus, if there is a life saving tool, such as an epi-pen, it should be on the boy at all times or otherwise readily available for use....and used!
                            I feel very sorry for all involved. I hope the owner of this restaurant is not ruined since they certainly don't deserve that.

                          2. This recent news article has parents in an uproar about how far their kids have to go to accomodate a student with a severe nut allergy.

                            http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/sta...

                            1. Lot of things we don't know about this story.

                              But let's just assume the worst (or best?) legal case for the kids:

                              1. Restaurant instructed about the deadly consequences of peanuts in no uncertain terms.
                              2. The restaurant explicitly agreed to such instructions
                              3. The restaurant warranted that its food served at the catered event was 100% "peanut free" and prepared in a "peanut free environment"

                              Only if all those are true would the parents have a viable legal case, ignoring for a moment the tricky question of causation (or proximate causation) and contributory negligence by the parents and/or schools.

                              All of that said, it would be hard to imagine that a restaurant would guarantee No. 2, above, much less No. 2 and No. 3.

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                Interesting from a legal perspective.

                                fourunder...your family is in the Chinese restaurant business, what do they tell customers who come in saying they have peanut allergies?

                                1. re: monku

                                  Most restaurants would agree to make a "peanut free" dish, but would never state or guarantee that the food is prepared in a "peanut free" environment.

                                  When we had our restaurant, at a customer's request, we would remove the peanuts from Kung Pao Chicken (for example) but would always say that we use peanut-derived products in the dish and that peanuts are used in other dishes and cookware in the kitchen.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I can imagine a Chinese restaurant saying "no peanuts- no peanuts".

                                    Reminds me going to a Chinese restaurant the other day and my wife asks about sugar being used and the waiter says "no sugar-no sugar" every dish he delivers. I'm sure the ingredients they used had HFCS in them.

                                    1. re: monku

                                      We used to frequent a Chinese place and when someone at the table asked for a dish to be prepared without meat the waiter would then say, "okay, no meat; pork okay?" So language/cultural issues can add another layer of complexity.

                                      As others have noted, there are no simple answers here and it may very well be that there's a bit of liability at each level. Doubtless the parents are feeling enormous guilt in addition to their grief but if you have a child with a known and potentially life=threatening sensitivity, it's difficult to lay blame on others.

                                      1. re: ferret

                                        Then there's the no MSG issue with Chinese restaurants too.

                                        1. re: monku

                                          That was exactly what I was thinking of when I said that they might not have added any peanuts but might not know what's in products they're buying and using.

                                          There's a big difference between "we don't add MSG" and "we certify that there's no MSG in this food whatsoever". Granted, I am AOK with MSG (it makes stuff taste better), but I'd never assume that "No MSG" at a place meant the latter. Same thing with "no peanuts", I'd assume that meant they didn't use peanuts themselves, I'd like to think that they took care of cross contamination issues but probably didn't, and I'd think that all bets are off regarding other products they use.

                                    2. re: monku

                                      M,

                                      Actually, my best friend and neighbor's family owned three Chinese Restaurants. I worked there in my youth and through college. I can remember people making requests to leave nuts out of the dishes, but I cannot recall anyone with peanut allergies inquiring about cross contamination issues. I asked him last night whether there were ever any legal issues brought against his family's businesses and he said they were never sued.

                                      If I still owned my restaurant, I would have a sign or table tent indicating I could not guarantee my restaurant to be totally *peanut free*.....even if I had no nuts in any of the dishes I served.

                                      1. re: fourunder

                                        When I had a place we had a sign up front stating that peanuts and peanut products were used. When someone would ask about peanuts I always stated that I could not guarantee that there would be no cross-contamination. Same thing for gluten. We had gluten-free food items but the possibility of cross-contamination was very real. Beyond that, it's up to the indivivual to know what he/she can safely consume.

                                    3. re: ipsedixit

                                      If the plaintiff's claim is that the harm was done by obvious peanut products (peanut oil, peanut butter, peanuts), there would be no need to get into the minutiae of what-ifs and 'peanut-free environments.'

                                      Also, since a defendant can be found partially liable, it may be that only #1 must be true for this case to have merit.

                                      As I and others said above, we just don't know enough at this point to assign fault.

                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                        If the plaintiff's claim is that the harm was done by obvious peanut products (peanut oil, peanut butter, peanuts), there would be no need to get into the minutiae of what-ifs and 'peanut-free environments.'

                                        __________________

                                        Not quite.

                                        If the claim by the plaintiffs' are based on peanut-derivatives (or cross-contamination), then the details are critical.

                                        Did the restaurant merely promise "no peanuts in the food"? Or did it warrant that its restaurant was a "peanut free" environment.

                                        The former is plausible (and most likely what happened); the latter strains credulity at all levels.

                                        1. re: ipsedixit

                                          Person from the school picks up the order and says " no peanuts", person handing them them the order says "no peanuts-no peanuts". End of conversation.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            What likely happened was a bit more grey.

                                            Customer: "We are worried about peanut allergies, can we get no peanuts?"
                                            Restaurant: "Sure, no peanuts!"

                                            "No peanuts" is neither "no peanuts in the food" nor "peanut free environment". It just says "no peanuts". What exactly does that mean?

                                            IMO they should only be bound to literally "no peanuts in the food", but I can see how a mixup of understanding could easily happen. I still don't think it should be legally actionable though. Mixups happen, if someone's life is at stake you should go the extra mile to make sure that it doesn't happen.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              "Not quite.

                                              If the claim by the plaintiffs' are based on peanut-derivatives (or cross-contamination), then the details are critical."
                                              ___________
                                              What?
                                              Did you read the section of my post that you quoted? Read it again. It's explicitly conditional on the premise that peanut cross-contamination has nothing to do with this particular case.

                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                  Then I don't understand your reply at all.

                                                  If the parents' claim is that the restaurant straight-up served peanuts after being warned of the possible consequences, then what exactly is meant by "no peanuts" is irrelevant because the restaurant did not comply with their commitment in ANY sense of the words, even the loosest.

                                        2. It's difficult to know from that piece of journalism who's at fault. There are inconsistencies, as others have noted, and there are a lot of areas not covered. The incredulous thing to me is that the school was aware this child had severe peanut allergies, and apparently didn't choose to administer epinephrine. They even observed her struggling for breath? I don't understand why they wouldn't have a policy in place to deal with this child's special needs. If so, why wasn't it followed? The article doesn't really address these questions, nor does it address whether or not this child was well educated about her disease. If nothing else, she should have had a plan in place, one in which everyone in that class knew an emergency signal that she needed immediate help. My allergist trains kids, teachers, and parents with expired epi pens in a pillow, so they can be better prepared. IMO, epi pen administration should be part of the CPR curriculum.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: amyzan

                                            "IMO, epi pen administration should be part of the CPR curriculum."

                                            I agree. I also think children with life threatening allergies should be able to carry the pen with them, and not have it kept with the nurse. The drug-free policy in schools needs to be changed for this case. If someone has an allergy, going to the nurse's office can take too long. In this case, I'm wondering, since it was out of the school, if there was an epipen available. No matter how careful you try to be, there will be emergencies.

                                            1. re: amyzan

                                              This was exactly my question - I'm more upset at the school for not getting the epi-pen than anything else. Sad, sad story.

                                              1. re: amyzan

                                                My epi pen came with one real and one "trainer" pen to practice the injection actions so you'd know what it needs to do and feel like so that while you're in the middle of a reaction you aren't trying to figure it out.

                                              2. Good lord. If you know that death is a possible if not likely outcome of eating the food, then don't allow your child to eat it, no matter what the restaurant says. Have some common sense. Eating a plate of food at a party is simply not worth the risk. How could any rational human being, knowing how central peanuts are to this cuisine, and knowing how hard (impossible?) it is to eliminate all traces of peanuts and peanut oil from a kitchen - every utensil, every pan, every surface - did they really think the restaurant could and would sterilize everything for a party of a few kids? The restaurant should never have promised such a thing.

                                                The school is also partly responsible for not assuring that the epi pen was available and that it was administered promptly.

                                                I feel terrible for this family, but I do not think they acted prudently. Were I on the jury, I would find that they were contributorily negligent and probably more so than the restaurant.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                  It's entirely possible that the family is suing the school for negligence or its epi pen policy and we just don't know it.

                                                  The suit against the restaurant is for "more than $100,000 in damages." Frankly, that sounds like only partial liability is being sought from the restaurant in the first place. Because much of the time, wrongful death of a child lawsuits are for A LOT more money.

                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                    Because much of the time, wrongful death of a child lawsuits are for A LOT more money.

                                                    ________________________

                                                    Esp. in Illinois, which has one of the most expansive wrongful death statutes on the books in terms of available damages.

                                                    Illinois Stat.: http://www.ilga.gov/LEGISLATION/ILCS/....

                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                      A very good point regarding the damages.

                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                        "The suit against the restaurant is for "more than $100,000 in damages." Frankly, that sounds like only partial liability is being sought from the restaurant in the first place. "

                                                        Dollar amounts in pleadings are meaningless. They're only included because there are threshold amounts for filing in certain courts and you need to notify the court you're filing in that the case meets the $$ requirement.

                                                    2. Agreed - there isn't enough information to know anything. But where was the girl's epipen? At thirteen, surely she was supposed to take SOME responsibility for her own health and well-being. If your allergies are that severe, you should have a pen on you 24/7.

                                                      7 Replies
                                                      1. re: Kajikit

                                                        Even younger than 13. Last summer I watched an 8 yo girl at camp explain to the counselors how she needed to be careful about what she ate due to certain food allergies. She was very clear, very knowledgable, and with her mother's back-up, asked to be allowed to look at food packages if she had any questions. As her mother explained, she knew exactly what she needed to look for. IMO, two points for both mom and child for teaching/learning personal responsilbility.

                                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                                          That was my point above--when in school, or at a school function, kids can't carry epipens or any drugs. They have to leave it at the school with the nurse. Teachers can't hold/administer drugs. They need to change the policy. It's very strict in some schools--my friend's daughter had a reaction but didn't actually ingest the food. The nurse couldn't give it to her because her form said "on ingesting". They had my friend on the phone who gave permission but verbal permission, at that time, wasn't allowed. My friend asked specifically, "So, she could die in the 5-10 minutes it takes for me to get there, and that's the policy???" They've changed the policy but it's all about liability.

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            That is a TERRIFYING policy. Thank god they changed it. What state is this?

                                                            1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                              It's a county/school board decision, not set by the state. I'm in Fairfax County and they're looking at their drug-free policy again. They have a drug-free policy but students have inadvertently had drugs like Motrin or antibiotics and they've been expelled for it. As for the verbal agreement part, I think they've been more proactive about telling parents about the policy when they fill out the form. I think a child should be allowed to carry an epipen if there is a life threatening allergy but it does bring up a whole host of questions about who is allowed to administer it.

                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                My daughter had a few motrin in her purse at school (she was just back at school after surgery, and forgot they were there), and not only did she get in a LOT of trouble, they tried to charge her with 'intent to distribute'. So the drug free policy needs serious revisions for reasonableness. Also, the bottle of Motrin I had to deliver and sign into the school for the nurse to give her on demand ? Never seen again - my daughter was given 'something' from a big industrial bottle. When she asked for 'her' bottle, she was treated as a troublemaker, and told - they are all locked up.

                                                                Clearly, someone is throwing the baby out with the bathwater....

                                                                1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                  much of policies, drug and otherwise, are based on fear and idiocy

                                                        2. Both the school and the Chinese restaurant are at fault if the article is to be taken at face value. The Chinese restaurant for neglect, the school for being ass-nine in trusting the food. How on earth could a school, knowing there were potential, serious side-effect allergic kids, trust any food outside its own cafeteria? In fact, they shouldn't have catered at all. What right do they have taking a chance like that, with or without a parent's permission?

                                                          1. I have allergies and sensitivities (foods and other things), though not to peanuts, and I avoid Chinese restaurants entirely. Even though they tell you there's no MSG, bottled sauces don't necessarily have the nutritional info on the label, and there's something called "natural flavor" that is in some way related to MSG.

                                                            It's so sad the girl died. If I were her father, I wouldn't've let her go to a Chinese restaurant, or an event catered by a Chinese restaurant. However, there are days when, because of my sensitivities, I wish I were dead. Maybe the girl is happier now than she'd've been in a lifetime of avoiding so many things the rest of the world takes for granted.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: Jay F

                                                              "and there's something called "natural flavor" that is in some way related to MSG"

                                                              It's called glutamate and it's in all sorts of food, you know, like mushrooms.

                                                              1. re: jgg13

                                                                It's called glutamate and it's in all sorts of food, you know, like mushrooms.

                                                                ___________________________________

                                                                ... and potato chips, fried chicken, gravy, and on and on.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  And therefore? Did I say it's only found in Chinese food?

                                                              2. re: Jay F

                                                                "Maybe the girl is happier now than she'd've been in a lifetime of avoiding so many things the rest of the world takes for granted."
                                                                _______________________________

                                                                I suppose there is the possibility that the girl is happier she's dead than living a lifetime dealing with food allergies.

                                                              3. That's really tragic. As the mother of a son with a severe peanut allergy, I will say that most people are utterly clueless about food allergies. When my son was little, people asked me, on more than one occasion, "I know you said he can't have peanuts. Can he have peanut butter?" And a friend whose child has a wheat allergy was once told by a playmate's mother, "I didn't put any wheat in these. I just used regular white flour."

                                                                The burden is definitely on the allergic person (or the parents) to make sure the food is safe, but once a restaurant. school, or whomever is notifiied of an allergy, they need to make sure they understand exactly what the situation is before declaring a food safe for the allergic person to consume.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: Isolda

                                                                  And a friend whose child has a wheat allergy was once told by a playmate's mother, "I didn't put any wheat in these. I just used regular white flour."
                                                                  ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                  sounds like an experience i had at a restaurant a few years ago:
                                                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7347...

                                                                  it's true - the burden is on those of us who live with the allergy/illness...or in the case of minors, on the guardians responsible for them. it's tragic and heartbreaking that this child died, but to be perfectly honest, considering that they knowingly allowing the child to eat food with *known* risks for contamination with the potentially fatal allergen, AND sent her off to school without an epi pen, i think the parents are ultimately more guilty of negligence than anyone else in this scenario.

                                                                2. Onus and responsibility is on the parents. If a child has a peanut allergy severe enough to cause death it's the responsibility of the parents to educate their child and watch what they eat. If my child had an allergy that severe I'd make sure I packed and prepared all of his/her meals until the child was either an adult or old enough to self-monitor what they eat.

                                                                  Peanuts are a common ingredient in Chinese food you can't expect a restaurant to avoid cross contamination even if they don't directly put peanuts in a dish. Chinese food is even listed in some places as a 'hidden' source of peanuts. "A peanut will kill my child, and I know Dish X is made with peanuts, but I'm gonna order it anyways oh by the way can you just be sure to leave the peanuts out." Be a responsible parent and go to an Italian place or something.

                                                                  1. If your kid had allergies so bad that exposure could kill her would you not always ensure she had her epi pen?

                                                                    Someone here said something like unless they were serving kung pao... I agree with that. You do your best as a restaurant, but there are sauces or preparations that may have peanut or peanut oil or made in a factory where peanuts are processed.

                                                                    That said, - my Gosh those poor parents. I hope they are doing this in grief and will reconsider later.

                                                                    1. I wonder what it would really take to turn a restaurant where peanuts/oil are used all day everyday into a peanut free facility, or close enough that the schoolgirl would still be alive. How would you go about that? Seems like the oil would be well integrated into the seasoned woks, and peanut oil vapor would be on the walls and in the air, being recirculated. Some people have mentioned sanitation, but peanuts aren't a microbe that can be killed with bleach or heat. How many times would you have to wipe everything down? How would you know when you got every last trace? Seems impossible.

                                                                      1. With the information from the story my thinking is that if the child's allergies were that swvere she should not have been eating food from a Chinese restaurant. If a lawsuit has to be filed, the scho district should be held respinsible for not administering Epinephrine.

                                                                        1. What a terrible story. Very sad.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: flourgirl

                                                                            I think that sums it up. I don't think there's anything in this thread that everyone involved isn't wishing he/she had done, in hindsight.

                                                                          2. This story makes me sad on many levels. Half the time I order an iced coffee at McDonalds with no sugar it comes out with sugar because the guy I'm looking across the counter at couldn't understand a simple request, yet a child has died because various people played the telephone game with a serious health issue.

                                                                            But hey, let's sue!

                                                                            12 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Bob W

                                                                              Do you really think that messing up the sugar in someone's coffee is anything at all like serving a meal with peanuts in it after your restaurant has been fully warned, in detail, that doing so could kill a child? You don't think even that pimply kid filling your coffee might be a little more careful if he knew doing so incorrectly could easily kill someone?

                                                                              The stakes are high with peanut allergies. If you don't want to face those stakes, don't make any agreements or guarantees. Simple. [You and] I don't know the details of this case, so this is all speculation. There may well be fault to go around in this case. In which case a lawsuit is entirely appropriate. Filing a lawsuit is not the same as saying 'you're at fault but I'm blameless.' It's more like asking the restaurant to take responsibility for their part in this tragedy.

                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                The stakes are high with peanut allergies. If you don't want to face those stakes, don't make any agreements or guarantees.
                                                                                ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                                                                                Except responsibility seems to lie just as fully if not more with the school and parents. The restaurant should never have been chosen by the school. The parents should never have allowed their child to partake of the food.

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  See my march 29th post above - we have no way of knowing whether the school is also named in a lawsuit or not. And from the amount being sought ($100k, chump change in a wrongful death of a child lawsuit), we might even assume that the restaurant is only accused of partial liability in the first place.

                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                    I'd think the lawsuit filed in Cook County would be public info and would certainly hope the Chicago Trib would have discovered whether the school was also named and noted that in their article. Otherwise, it's poor journalism on their part.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      The school (or the district) were not named as defendants, at least not yet. Not even the teacher.

                                                                                      The only named defendants are the restaurant (Chinese Inn) and the owner of the restaurant (Xiang Zhong Mei).

                                                                                      Which makes it odd because one would think that the school (or the school district) would have deeper pockets (or at least larger insurance policies) than a nondescript Chinese restaurant.

                                                                                      If I was representing the family and the deceased, I would've sued everyone in sight -- school, principal, teacher, school nurse or other medical staff, school district, the city or municipality (if it controls the schools), restaurant, restaurant employees, restaurant owner.

                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                        You would have to sue everyone in sight, otherwise it's per se malpractice, iirc.

                                                                                        I'm not an ambulance chaser.

                                                                                        1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                          Unless of course the school (and everyone related to them) has already made "amends" with the family. Y'know, quietly so that none of this gets dug up and raked over the coals on the Internet ...

                                                                                          It is a school for the gifted after all, gotta be some smart people running the place.

                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            Does making amends with the family stop the restaurant from pinning the blame on the school? I don't think so.

                                                                                            1. re: Worldwide Diner

                                                                                              Does making amends with the family stop the restaurant from pinning the blame on the school? I don't think so.
                                                                                              _________________

                                                                                              No, but we are talking about a lawsuit brought by the family (and/or estate).

                                                                                              To go after the school for indemnity, it would have to be a cross-complaint brought by the restaurant.

                                                                                              Once the school -- assuming it did -- paid off the family, it would have received a release from any and all claims that the family could bring.

                                                                                2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                  First of all, any parent of a kid who has a peanut allergy knows that it's not just that the food itself doesn't contain peanuts, but that the food can't be prepared on equipment that has been used to prepare food that does contain peanuts. Surely you've read some food labels? Is there a Chinese restaurant on the planet that doesn't use peanuts in some dishes? You said it yourself, the stakes are high with peanut allergies -- so you don't trust a third-hand "guarantee."

                                                                                  Which brings me to point two: where is the privity of contract here? There is no way a contract claim by the parents will stand up. That leaves negligence -- how was the restaurant negligent vis a vis the parents?

                                                                                  I hate to break it to you, but if the restaurant gets a half-decent lawyer, they will walk away from this lawsuit paying not a cent to the parents. The school district might have some responsibility here, and certainly the parents as well. But the restaurant? I'd take that case.

                                                                                  1. re: Bob W

                                                                                    "First of all, any parent of a kid who has a peanut allergy knows that it's not just that the food itself doesn't contain peanuts, but that the food can't be prepared on equipment that has been used to prepare food that does contain peanuts."
                                                                                    ____
                                                                                    The parents weren't there. And it's quite possible that was explained fully, in detail, to the restaurant. You're assuming things you don't know.

                                                                                    "Where is the privity of contract here?"
                                                                                    _______
                                                                                    This is a decent point - it's possible the school would have a stronger case against the restaurant than the parents (had the school already been successfully sued in a wrongful death suit).

                                                                                    On the other hand, you gloss right over negligence and duty of care as though it's obvious and easy to show that the restaurant had no responsibilities in that regard. It's not. If the restaurant was fully warned in detail (which we don't know), I could see a strong case being made in this regard.

                                                                                    I'm not a lawyer - I don't know enough to predict the chances of this lawsuit being successful. However, the parents weren't at this function, and likely didn't have any foreknowledge of it. The school, in whom they reasonably trusted with her care, ordered takeout. Blaming the parents for their daughter's death (as many have done on this thread) is misguided and bordering on cruel. It's entirely possible that they don't have a very strong case in this lawsuit, but at the same time are honestly misplacing blame, not trying to put one over on anyone. It's also entirely plausible that they read this at some point (this is, after all, a public forum). So lets not smear them too much when we know so little. OK?

                                                                                    1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                      You don't need privity of contract because the lawsuit is proceeding on a negligence basis.

                                                                              2. I'm sympathetic to parents whose kids have food allergies (well, not really sympathetic, more like "not completely insensitive to") but I sure as hell want to be able to eat in Chinese restaurants that use peanuts in their Kung Pao chicken so it looks like parents are just going to have to keep their kids out of Chinese restaurants. These restaurants don't serve $40 entrees and they can't afford to have themselves Certified Peanut Allergy Safe so eating at them is always going to be dicey for someone with allergies. Do me, you, your kids and the restaurant a favor ... keep away from them.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: redfish62

                                                                                  And I am sure the restaurant feels terrible about what happened, but once someone files a lawsuit against you that would put you out of business if successful (or even if it just drags on long enough, see the famous "Pants Man" case in DC), you dry the tears and fight back as hard as you can.

                                                                                2. I actually feel competent to talk on this subject (a rarity on chowhound). :-)

                                                                                  I grew up with a severe allergy to eggs, also a life-threatening Anaphylactic shock reaction. People fail to realize it's not just eating the allergy item, but contact that can cause severe reactions even when it's just an item that CONTAINS the ingredient. I can think of an example...helping my mother roll some dough as a kid that contained eggs. I wiped my face and it looked instantly like someone had taken red magic markers to me instead of fingers. Lesson learned there. I wouldn't have thought that myself, knowing I could touch items (baked goods) that contained egg without a problem.

                                                                                  My allergy, at least, was so severe, you could use 1 egg in 4 dozen cookies, i could take the slightest nibble of a single cookie, and go into a full systemic reaction. Fortunately, I had a warning indicator that let me know instantly that was going to happen (my tongue itched). Progression would involve me throwing up within minutes, and then my air passage beginning to close off making it almost impossible to breath. BTW, I'm really not sure about this "forced air" thing at the hospital where they stuff the nose air tube in you. When having a reaction of this type, how the heck are you supposed to breath out? Not against the air coming in your nose or out through your mouth well when your throat is almost closed shut. I can remember having a reaction and having to pull that out while pacing at the hospital gasping for air when I was 5 thanks to the development of the same allergy reaction to watermelon when I'd always ate it before (5 little chunks and the itchy tongue began).

                                                                                  Anyway, relevant, I can remember asking at restaurants if the bread contained eggs as an ingredient, soups, etc. You'd get a lot of no instantly, or "I don't think so". Instant no is a warning and I'd stress to them I was severely allergic, and could they actually check the ingredients. You'd think working in the food industry people would be a bit better educated about allergies and their consequences. If there was doubt, I just didn't eat the item, but you could never tell....ingredients change and what might be safe today wouldn't be later (I actually had some frozen doughnuts that were the only ones known to me as a kid that didn't have eggs...I mourned the day that changed).

                                                                                  Cross contamination is an issue one should think of, as I wouldn't eat an item if it was cooked on the same grill as eggs were fried, but again, you'd have to ask to make sure specifically.

                                                                                  That being said, I can think of an instance where it would have been within our right to sue and I think won that case, that being when a couple girlfriends of my mother got me a cake for my 5th birthday (5 was just not a good year) and had checked with the bakery that it had no eggs. Now, that's a rarity....I had never had a cake that my mother hadn't baked that was without eggs. One bite, and I said the dreaded word..."eggs". Sure enough, even though the bakery said none were used, in the ingredients was listed "marshmallow cream" for the frosting, which was composed of the hated egg. Was the bakery at fault here? I certainly think so, as they are the ones certifying there was no egg used in the cake at all. It took us a while to think / determine that was it ourselves, but when in a case like this you stress it's not an ingredient when informed of the consequences, I think as the preparer of the item you are responsible.

                                                                                  As far as carrying an epipen, I'm guilty of not doing that myself. I had one, but more often than not it stayed in the cabinet at home. As I recall, the sucker has heat storage requirements, light, etc. Should I have carried one? Yes. Should the school have had one on hand? That's a certain yes. That being said, also realize that they only buy you around 5 minutes, you still need to get to a hospital.

                                                                                  As far as the case above goes, there's responsibility enough for this to be shared. Given the size of the lawsuit, I think that's factored into that number and don't see any reason the caterer shouldn't be held to that amount of liability at the least.

                                                                                  For those wondering, approximately 1% of all people have food allergies, and 1% of those strong enough to cause the Anaphylactic shock reaction (thought that numbers may be growing). Only 1% of those with it that severe will outgrow it. I'm proud to say I beat the odds twice, and now can cook with eggs as an ingredient though I avoid them on their own (say omelets, etc). As for watermelon, I avoid that whole family and don't want to tempt fate to see, as it certainly doesn't impact my ability to eat like eggs did.

                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: sumrtym

                                                                                    You do not recall correctly. EpiPens do not require special storage. Room temp. You aren't supposed to refrigerate or expose to extreme heat or light. Keeping it in your purse (as most would do) is just fine in most circumstances.

                                                                                    If you were that severely allergic, your mother should have told her two well-meaning friends that the risk of getting a store-bought cake was not worth it and she'd bake you a cake at home.

                                                                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                      Oh but they double-checked and triple-checked and were ASSURED it had no eggs....which is my point, even when stressing the allergy with it's symptoms. And this is where I DO hold the restaurant / bakery responsible in these matters.

                                                                                      Regarding the EpiPen, a purse is great...if you're a woman. I am not, thus carrying one doesn't lend itself well to, at that time, boy child. Again, as I said before, for worst case food allergies it just buys you another 5 minutes or so anyway. Sometimes that's enough to make a difference...sometimes.

                                                                                      1. re: sumrtym

                                                                                        I'm sorry to hear you hav this attitude about Epipens for boys. After all, they can save an allergic child's life in that they buy time to get medical care. I think that's good reason enough to carry one in your pocket, no matter your sex. Hell, I carry one when hiking, and a lot of women's fitness clothes don't have pockets. I just wear something similar to a fanny pack, and it's a good place to stash keys and the dog leash as well.

                                                                                        1. re: amyzan

                                                                                          I'm saying it's difficult. Look at the length of the package an Epipen comes in, and think about stuffing it into your jeans pocket all day and while playing at recess.

                                                                                          1. re: sumrtym

                                                                                            If a man cannot figure out how to carry an Epipen for their allergic child, that man should not have procreated. (Put it on a chain and wear it around your neck. Tape it to your ankle under your sock.)

                                                                                            1. re: John E.

                                                                                              We were talking about children carrying Epipens, not their parents.

                                                                                              1. re: sumrtym

                                                                                                Sorry about that. I did not read your original post and only caught the reference to a purse. How are you doing now? Are you just as allergic to eggs now as you were as a child? As an allergy goes, that much more difficult to avoid than peanuts.

                                                                                                I have a SIL that has developed food alleegies in her 40s, not life threatening however. So far she is allergic to soy, all treenuts and watermelon. That's the one that threw me until I thought about the seeds (and even seedless watermelons have undeveloped seeds).

                                                                                                1. re: John E.

                                                                                                  Outgrew the egg one, probably watermelon one but I see no reason to test that. The eggs were the hard one that limited what I could eat, so I just avoid watermelon and it's family for the most part with no real loss there.

                                                                                    2. re: sumrtym

                                                                                      but ill bet if u checked...there were no eggs in the cake itself..

                                                                                      unless the people preparing food have direct knowledge of how bad a reaction some people can have...most people have no clue...they probably arent thinking no eggs means no eggs in the cake..not- no eggs anywhere period...or no peanuts..or wheat or whichever allergen..
                                                                                      that being said...
                                                                                      as far as the OP news story..like my first post reply says..there isnt enough information to assign blame..
                                                                                      this thread has basically gone to everybody speculating as to who said what and who promised no peanuts...
                                                                                      and whos to blame...

                                                                                      ill say it again...
                                                                                      just from the story...no way to tell...
                                                                                      not enough facts...

                                                                                      yes food allergies can be deadly
                                                                                      ignorance can be deadly....
                                                                                      stupidity can deadly...or at least very painful...(just look at videos on youtube)

                                                                                      while i dont want to make any conclusions..
                                                                                      its all speculation...
                                                                                      did the parents know or what they knew about the trip/food?
                                                                                      what did the restaurant say?
                                                                                      what was ordered?
                                                                                      and everything else...

                                                                                      so unless you(anybody) were there or are in the situation i wouldnt presume to know anything...

                                                                                      1. re: srsone

                                                                                        I wouldn't say if someone asked me to make sure there weren't eggs in a pie, there is a fatal food allergy involved, that I'd be without blame for saying no and then slathering the top with egg to make it shine (because there wasn't any in the pie, now, right)?

                                                                                        That's how lawsuits and negligence leading to deaths come about. If your business is food, you better own it when making responses in these matters.

                                                                                        1. re: sumrtym

                                                                                          Frankly, cross contamination is so easy that I wouldn't choose a chinese restaurant for a child with peanut allergies. .

                                                                                          I think it really depends on what was said and how the arrangement was made. And the level of urgency that they communicated to the restaurant. It's not as if the restaurant were in the business of dangerous chemicals or caters specifically to allergies, so the level of accomodation is difficult to control.

                                                                                          For those with peanut allergies that are deadly, eating out is simply not an option.

                                                                                      2. re: sumrtym

                                                                                        "Should I have carried one? Yes. Should the school have had one on hand? That's a certain yes."

                                                                                        I assume that you mean your parents should have provided the school with an Epi-Pen that they could have kept, labelled with your name, in a secure, central area. Expecting the school to provide and administer medications is ridiculous. I'm a teacher and I'm absolutely terrified by the possible legal repercussions of jabbing a child with an Epi-Pen that their parents had not pre-approved (and provided).

                                                                                        1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                          Yes, in terms of parents providing one. However, I don't know that school's shouldn't have them, given the development of allergies not had before or undiagnosed and reactions that could occur. Kind of akin to having heart defibrillators available in public places, which I think ought to be just like fire extinguishers.

                                                                                          1. re: Jetgirly

                                                                                            I suspect that if you were actually in the situation, and it was one of the children in your class or your school, that the legal implications would become much less scary than they may seem when viewed in theory.

                                                                                            Of course, it would help if the child was carrying it him or herself (certainly by the age of 13, and I agree with the poster who noted that requiring it to be kept in the nurse's office is ridiculous, drug problems in schools not withstanding). And of course, it would also help if your district did the right thing and included it in standard training along with CPR, etc. but then, at least where I am, it seems to be too much sometimes to even assume the district will provide books and pens. But that is another story...

                                                                                        2. Obviously a very sad incident. Regarding the lawsuit, and the THOUSANDS upon THOUSANDS of other lawsuits like this, would that there were folks with the same amount of tenacity, aggressiveness, attention to very minute detail and dogged determination pursuing an answer to the reason why SO MANY MORE PEOPLE have these horrible, deadly allergies now than ever before, and RESEARCHING A FIX to the problem, instead of all the time and money spent suing each other. It's just sad.

                                                                                          1. The fault lies with the parents. Although not life threatening, I am lactose intolerant and if a restaurant can not with certainty tell me it's dairy free I won't eat it. If they lie, luckily the worst thing that could happen to me is stomach issues. If I knew I could actually die from it, I would not eat out.

                                                                                            The parents of a child with such a severe allergy should not have allowed her to eat any sort of catered or pre-packaged food - period. It's sad that the child can't "be" like every other kid, but it's better to make some food sacrifices than to wind up dead.

                                                                                            31 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: pitagirl

                                                                                              "The fault lies with the parents."
                                                                                              _____
                                                                                              The school ordered takeout and provided it to the her with assurances it was safe. The girl was 13. The parents most likely heard nothing about her eating said food until their daughter was dead. We have no way of knowing what their 'rule' for their daughter's diet actually was.

                                                                                              And people keep on insisting that if they/their child had a peanut allergy, that said child would only EVER eat foods cooked in their own home, as though that is in ANY way realistic. Maybe for a little while after diagnosis, but eventually reality sets in, complete with hunger, temptation, social pressures (again, the girl was 13), lost lunch bags, and everything else. Don't believe me? Take a look see and find out how many threads there are on this forum about eating out with severe allergies, peanuts included. Find me a real live non-hypothetical person with a life threatening allergy who's never (since diagnosis) eaten a single bit of food that wasn't cooked in their own home, and I'll find you 10 who have.

                                                                                              This head-shaking 'i blame the parents' stuff plays better when it's said after some kid robs a liquor store (and even then, it's inaccurate much of the time, and almost always devoid of insight). In this situation, it's just dragging the bereaved through the mud. And as I pointed out in an above post, we're on a public forum where it's not too much of a stretch to believe that they or someone who knows them might see these comments.

                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                Actually I have a friend with a child with severe allergies. He is 12 and he has NEVER eaten food that has not be prepared by his parents, or a trusted source. If the child gives in to temptation, how is it the school or the restaurant's fault? It is the parents job to drill into the kids head what will happen if they eat the wrong things. This is a horrifically sad story and we should learn from it and it should be used as an example to schools, parents and restaurants.

                                                                                                1. re: pitagirl

                                                                                                  But what constitutes a trusted source? A more distant relative? A friend of the family? A trusted teacher who has been briefed on the dangers? You see what I'm getting at here? Also, I'd bet any amount of money that even your friend's child has eaten a thing or two his parents didn't know about. That's the nature of children.

                                                                                                  We can agree, I'm sure, that a Chinese takeout spot should not be considered a trusted source for someone with a peanut allergy. But again, it is highly unlikely her parents were consulted.

                                                                                                  "If the child gives in to temptation, how is it the school or the restaurant's fault? "
                                                                                                  ______
                                                                                                  Because they put food in front of a child (and her friends) and told her that the food was safe even for someone with a peanut allergy. And that food killed her. How in the world is the restaurant and/or school NOT at least partially at fault?

                                                                                                  1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                    ok...if i was a lawyer...this i where i would stand up and yell "I OBJECT"
                                                                                                    we(all) are arguing facts not in evidence...

                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                        I would object to your claiming that a Chinese restaurant should be expected to have any expertise in the area of food allergies. The restaurant did not serve food that was adulterated or spoiled, and from what we know the food did not "contain" peanuts, which was the question apparently put to them.

                                                                                                        Pitagirl is correct. I have young children and I can assure you that the parents of kids with serious food allergies monitor every single thing their kids eat. Someone really screwed up here and it was not the restaurant.

                                                                                                        1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                          "I would object to your claiming that a Chinese restaurant should... have any expertise in... food allergies"
                                                                                                          ____
                                                                                                          When did I say that? Ever? My whole point has been that the restaurant's culpability depends on whether they were fully informed of the exact risks and needs of someone with peanut allergies by the teacher in question.

                                                                                                          If the restaurant said they would serve food with no peanuts and no trace of peanuts, having been fully informed of the risks, they were at fault and deserve to be held financially responsible (at least in part), as they should have spoken up and stated that it was not in their capability to serve food in a peanut free environment. Afterall - they are the experts in food preparation in this scenario, the ones who most reasonably should have known that a peanut free environment was impossible for them to guaranty. To give that guaranty anyway, knowing that a life could be at risk, is negligent in every sense of the word. Again, IF they were briefed.

                                                                                                          If the school failed to notify the restaurant of the child's exact needs and risks, they were negligent and the restaurant should not be held responsible. Then there are additional issues with their response, but we don't know much about that.

                                                                                                          The only way to reasonably hold the parents responsible for what a 13 year old eats at school, having been given it by a teacher with assurances that it is safe (we can assume she was assured since the school has maintained that it made specific demands of the Chinese restaurant) would be if they were consulted before the food was offered to her. While I can't rule this out as a possibility, it's pretty freaking unlikely (do you disagree?).

                                                                                                          "I have young children and I can assure you that the parents of kids with serious food allergies monitor every single thing their kids eat."
                                                                                                          ______
                                                                                                          No you can't. I have a (very) young child myself (there's not much comparison to a 13 year old). What's your point?

                                                                                                        2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                          people are debating what was said between the school and the restaurant..
                                                                                                          people are assuming what the parents did and did not know about the meal...
                                                                                                          how much did the child know..
                                                                                                          the school policy on epi-pens or drugs

                                                                                                          i said before in my earliest post ..
                                                                                                          the family lawyer says heavily contaminated..the testing lab says trace amounts..
                                                                                                          it also doesnt state if the child died from the chinese food..or from another source..
                                                                                                          the earlier story states another child at the same lunch who also had a peanut allergy did not have any kind of reaction...

                                                                                                          so basically from just the news story..again...i wouldnt pass judgement on anything..

                                                                                                          1. re: srsone

                                                                                                            "people are debating what was said between the school and the restaurant.."
                                                                                                            _______
                                                                                                            True, we don't know this. I never meant to imply that we did and apologize if I gave that impression.

                                                                                                            "people are assuming what the parents did and did not know about the meal."
                                                                                                            ______
                                                                                                            We don't know this for certain. We do know enough that I feel assumptions are reasonable. We know that the child was given Chinese take out food while at school. We know that this is not typically the type of thing where schools send permission slip home - that's usually reserved for off-campus trips. And I personally find it unlikely that her parents would have signed off on her eating Chinese food had they been asked point blank about it. It's possible they knew about the meal. Not likely though.

                                                                                                            "the school policy on epi-pens or drugs"
                                                                                                            ____
                                                                                                            I haven't mentioned that stuff all precisely because we don't know anything about it.

                                                                                                            At any rate, I'm not arguing that the restaurant was definitely to blame, though I've argued that they at least COULD be to some degree. I've only objected to knee-jerk blaming of the parents, when the parents are to blame only in the least plausible of circumstances.

                                                                                                            1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                              and im not objecting to any individual posts ...just all of them together...
                                                                                                              are debating on facts we dont know or coulda/woulda/shoulda...

                                                                                                              so answering the OP has kinda gotten away from the thread...

                                                                                                  2. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                    Cowboyardee is right.

                                                                                                    Even ALLERGISTS, for cryin out loud, don't necessarily insist that their patients with peanut allergies refrain from eating out, although they do recommend proceeding with caution when eating away from home, particularly when dining at restaurants that serve certain cuisines, and they do recommend taking certain preventive measures including always having EpiPens immediately available.

                                                                                                    I also think all restaurants SHOULD have basic knowledge about the most common allergies (eg peanuts, shellfish). "No peanuts" because of severe peanut allergy should be understood by restaurant staff to mean not just peanuts or peanut butter in the dish itself, but also not using ingredients (eg sauces) that might contain small amounts of peanuts and not cooking the dish or prepping the ingredients on surfaces contaminated by peanuts or peanut products.

                                                                                                    A large part of the difficulty of this case, from my layperson's perspective, is deciding what "heavily contaminated with" vs "trace amounts of" peanut products means in the test that was reported and whether the restaurant's agreement to provide food for diners known to have severe peanut allergies included an agreement to provide food free of food "heavily contaminated with" or containing "trace amounts of" peanut products.

                                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                                      I'm with ipsedixit: there's no way a Chinese restaurant would (or could) agree to supply food that was prepared in a completely peanut-free environment. They would have to close down the kitchen, scrub it from top to bottom, and not prepare any other food until the peanut-free order was sent out for delivery. Since they wouldn't have agreed to do that, it can be assumed that they weren't asked to do that as a condition of the order.

                                                                                                      My best guess is that there was a literal game of telephone going on here: it wasn't made clear to the person at the school that the food had to be completely free of any traces of peanuts, and/or that wasn't conveyed to the restaurant.

                                                                                                      At any rate, the main culprit here, IMHO, is the ridiculous "zero-tolerance" drug rules that prevent children who need medicine from having it at school.

                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                        "My best guess is that there was a literal game of telephone going on here: it wasn't made clear to the person at the school that the food had to be completely free of any traces of peanuts, and/or that wasn't conveyed to the restaurant."
                                                                                                        __________
                                                                                                        That sounds quite plausible and reasonable, though we'll probably never know for sure.

                                                                                                        I'm also wondering if maybe the school did try to explain their exact needs to the restaurant and a language barrier came into play. And if so, how to sort that mess out.

                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                          If there was a language barrier, fault lies with the school.

                                                                                                          Think about it this way with this example...

                                                                                                          Let's say you are at a flea market, and pickup a nice pair of what looks like diamond earings. You ask the nice lady (1) how much and (2) if they are real diamonds. Lady at the booth speaks limited English and is more proficient in [pick a foreign language], to which you do not understand.

                                                                                                          Through various hand gestures and broken English between you two, you come to (1) believe that the earings are in fact diamonds and (2) agree wtith the nice lady to pay X amount for them.

                                                                                                          Money is exchanged, diamond earings are wrapped up, and you go happily on your way. But lo and behold when you take them home and your jeweler savant of a friend takes a look at them under a high-powered 10x triple loupe, you come to learn they're in fact cubic zirconia.

                                                                                                          Loser? You.

                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                            I agree with you that when dealing with someone who obviously is struggling with the language, the onus is on the person with the allergy to be sure that both parties understand each other.
                                                                                                            But I think the analogy you offer trivializes the issue. Buying a fake diamond is usually not a matter of life and death.

                                                                                                            When the restaurant says that they will accommodate your food allergy, it is more similar to a person agreeing to babysit your child or to care for your pet in your absence. There are certain things that accepting the responsibility obliges them to do (and I do not mean that in a legal sense).

                                                                                                            1. re: racer x

                                                                                                              But I think the analogy you offer trivializes the issue. Buying a fake diamond is usually not a matter of life and death.

                                                                                                              When the restaurant says that they will accommodate your food allergy, it is more similar to a person agreeing to babysit your child or to care for your pet in your absence. There are certain things that accepting the responsibility obliges them to do (and I do not mean that in a legal sense).

                                                                                                              _______________

                                                                                                              Where is it established that the restaurant would "accommodate [the] food allergy"?

                                                                                                              The parent (and the school) have alleged, but nowhere do I see online or in these discussions that that's been proven to the case.

                                                                                                              As to trivializing the issue with the diamond analogy, you have to understand it was an analogy. The same principles of agreement, understanding, assumption of the risk, consent, etc. all apply uniformly. A transaction for material good abides by the same principles to a transaction that may implicate life and death.

                                                                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                I meant 'accommodate the food allergy' in a general sense, not necessarily in this specific case, since as it has been stated several times throughout this thread, there are many details that we just do not know about this case -- the Tribune article only provides information from one of the involved parties (and even that is second- or third-hand info).

                                                                                                                Generally speaking, though, when a restaurant is informed that a prospective diner has a food allergy and asked that no food be served containing that particular ingredient, and the restaurant agrees to serve that diner, the restaurant is agreeing to accommodate the food allergy. (Note that there is a difference between this kind of situation and agreeing to serve a dish lacking a particular ingredient to someone who says nothing about having an allergy.)

                                                                                                                Accommodating someone with a food allergy means, among other things, serving food that has not been in contact with the problematic ingredient. For example, it would not be acceptable, once a restaurant had agreed to prepare chicken penne for a diner with a shrimp allergy, to try to "fix" a dish of shrimp penne by picking out the shrimp and replacing it with bits of chicken and then serving it to the customer.

                                                                                                                A restaurant that did something like that would be blameworthy because they should have known what "no shrimp" would mean for serving someone with a severe shrimp allergy.

                                                                                                                1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                  At this point, there is a dearth of information about the specifics of this case. For all we know, the traces of peanuts may have resulted from cross-contamination when the raw ingredients were delivered to the restaurant.

                                                                                                        2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                          Ruth, I agree that asking for food prepared in "a completely peanut-free environment," such as you've described it, would be unreasonable.

                                                                                                          I don't think it is unreasonable, though, for a peanut-allergic customer to request food that is free of peanuts or any peanut products among the ingredients and that has been prepared on surfaces and cooked in containers that have been washed to remove any gross peanut residue left from the preparation of other meals.

                                                                                                          Individuals with peanut allergies are almost never so sensitive that they require the "completely peanut-free environment" to avoid an allergic reaction. (And the ones who know that they are so sensitive would not be eating anything they had not prepared themselves.)

                                                                                                          1. re: racer x

                                                                                                            I don't think it is unreasonable, though, for a peanut-allergic customer to request food that is free of peanuts or any peanut products among the ingredients and that has been prepared on surfaces and cooked in containers that have been washed to remove any gross peanut residue left from the preparation of other meals.
                                                                                                            __________________

                                                                                                            That would be unreasonable.

                                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                              It's not unreasonable for a customer to request a peanut-free environment. After all, not everyone knows or cares how restaurants are run or organized. It's unreasonable for a restaurant that uses peanut products extensively to guaranty a peanut-free environment - they're the ones who should know better.

                                                                                                              (again, so I don't get clobbered - we don't know that the restaurant in question here guarantied anything or that the request was made clear or even that it was made at all).

                                                                                                              1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                Well, according to someone upthread, the suit alleges negligence, not breach of contract, so we can all forget about the guarantee issue.

                                                                                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                                                                                  I bring up the 'guaranty' not because of any implications with respect to contracts, but because it would show that the restaurant understood what was being asked of them and what the stakes were.

                                                                                                              2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                Ipsedixit: "That would be unreasonable."

                                                                                                                Well, we'll just have to agree to disagree on that.

                                                                                                                I think it is a perfectly reasonable request.
                                                                                                                The restaurant is under no obligation to honor the request, and the diner is under no obligation to eat there if the restaurant says it cannot or will not.

                                                                                                              3. re: racer x

                                                                                                                "I don't think it is unreasonable, though, for a peanut-allergic customer to request food that is free of peanuts or any peanut products among the ingredients and that has been prepared on surfaces and cooked in containers that have been washed to remove any gross peanut residue left from the preparation of other meals."

                                                                                                                It is an unreasonable request. Think of the time and effort it takes to clean the utensils, cutting services, pots, pans, and containers. Suppose it takes 20 minutes to do so. After all, you want it to be as peanut-free as possible. Also, restaurants pre-cut cooking ingredients in advance. Assuming that have the supplies, the cooks will then need to cut/prepare the ingredients again. Perhaps it might take another 10 minutes if they're lucky. Then you need to actually cook the peanut-free dish before everyone else's dish.

                                                                                                                In the scenario, all cooking operations have been halted for 30 minute or around half of a lunch hour rush. How do you explain to the other patrons in the restaurant that they need to wait 30-40 minutes before their order will be served? If new ones come, you'll need to turn them away. So to prepare a single, mostly peanut-free dish, you will forces 20, 30, 40, or however many other patrons to wait. I guarantee that they'll leave first and probably will never return due to slow and poor service.

                                                                                                                1. re: raytamsgv

                                                                                                                  If a particular restaurant's set up is such that they would not be able to comply, they can simply say that they cannot accommodate the diner's request. Very simple.

                                                                                                                  See Ming Tsai's video in my post from earlier today (stamped 10:40am). He explains that for a restaurant *that is prepared*, accommodating a diner with a food allergy needn't slow down operations.
                                                                                                                  He also makes the point that it can help boost business because once diners with food allergies find a restaurant that is able and willing to serve them safely, they become very loyal customers.

                                                                                                                  1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                    I agree that if a restaurant "is prepared," they should be able to handle it. Otherwise, it's too much to ask, especially of smaller restaurants that don't have the staffing or the space to handle such issues.

                                                                                                                    1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                      If a particular restaurant's set up is such that they would not be able to comply, they can simply say that they cannot accommodate the diner's request. Very simple.
                                                                                                                      ________________________________

                                                                                                                      Then it's not really a "request" in the truest sense.

                                                                                                                      If a restaurant is already equipped to handle allergies, then it is only a "request" in the same way one might "request" a Big Mac at McDonalds. The restaurant is already offering that option, you (the allergic one) is simply choosing that option.

                                                                                                                      On the other hand, a request (in the more common sense of the word) made to a restaurant not equipped to handle allergies -- whether that restaurant is big or small or whatever -- is unreasonable.

                                                                                                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                        "On the other hand, a request (in the more common sense of the word) made to a restaurant not equipped to handle allergies -- whether that restaurant is big or small or whatever -- is unreasonable."
                                                                                                                        _______
                                                                                                                        I would say that such a request is more ignorant than it is unreasonable. You and I might understand whether any given restaurant would be equipped due to our interests or just reading chowhound, but the average diner doesn't necessarily know much about professional kitchens or which cuisines use peanut products extensively. I don't consider that common knowledge. IMO the onus is on the restaurant to explain whether such is thing is possible once a customer has explained his/her needs.

                                                                                                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                          I would say that such a request is more ignorant than it is unreasonable.
                                                                                                                          ______________

                                                                                                                          True, but alot of times unreasonableness and ignorance are two sides of the same coin.

                                                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                  Babette Feasts: "I wonder what it would really take to turn a restaurant where peanuts/oil are used all day everyday into a peanut free facility, or close enough that the schoolgirl would still be alive. How would you go about that? Seems like the oil would be well integrated into the seasoned woks, and peanut oil vapor would be on the walls and in the air, being recirculated. Some people have mentioned sanitation, but peanuts aren't a microbe that can be killed with bleach or heat. How many times would you have to wipe everything down? How would you know when you got every last trace? Seems impossible."

                                                                                                                  I want to come back to this comment that Babette Feasts posted.
                                                                                                                  Again, it seems that many in our discussion here are assuming that the allergic diners are requesting much more than they are.

                                                                                                                  Celebrity chef Ming Tsai recently worked with the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (an education and advocacy group) and state legislators in Massachusetts to pass a law to improve the level of basic education about food allergies among restaurant workers.

                                                                                                                  One of the requirements of the law is that a poster must be displayed for restaurant staff discussing the most common food allergies and the concept of cross-contact. Chef Tsai describes avoiding cross-contact to prevent an allergic reaction as being akin to observing measures to prevent cross-contamination with uncooked chicken in the kitchen.
                                                                                                                  (see @1:19 in the video on the webpage linked below)
                                                                                                                  http://ming.com/foodallergies.htm

                                                                                                                  Again, for all but the most severely allergic (who would not be eating anything they had not prepared themselves), preparing an allergen-free meal does not require a complete steam-cleaning of the premises. It does necessitate making sure that the restaurant staff know what ingredients are used in each dish and that anyone handling the food (from prep staff to cook to servers) take measures to avoid cross-contact.

                                                                                                                  Pages 40-41 in this guide for restaurants about food allergy, prepared by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network working with members of the restaurant industry and medical professionals, discuss best practices in the kitchen to avoid cross-contact. Pages 30-31 discuss best practices for hosts and servers.
                                                                                                                  http://www.foodallergy.org/files/Welc...
                                                                                                                  -- it's a pdf file

                                                                                                                  Elsewhere in the guide, there is at least one comment about diners with allergies eating catered meals, and there is a case cited for discussion of a peanut-allergic diner who ate in a Chinese restaurant. In the latter case, the problem wasn't that peanut products, including peanut oil, were freely used all the time in the kitchen. It was that the chef had changed the egg roll recipe to include peanut butter and the server who took the order had not checked with the kitchen to verify that none of the foods the diner would be served contained any peanut products.

                                                                                                          2. I believe the parents should be shouldering the blame for this for several reasons. If their child's allergies were severe enough to cause death, they should be preparing as much of his food as possible. My uncle has severe food allergies and realized he cannot put it upon restaurants to make sure his food isnt contaminated, at most restaurants there is far to many variables to properly prepare food for people with deathly allergies. Why take the risk?

                                                                                                            Also, why would they let their child eat food that normally has large amounts of peanuts in it? I wouldn't let my child eat mexican if they had a chilli allergy, I would also think it negligent to just ask the restaurant to not use chillies and expect that was enough.

                                                                                                            Lastly, and most important I think, why would they send their child to school without their epi-pen, and make sure the school knew how to properly administer it?

                                                                                                            If a child had a heart condition, I'd expect the parents to make sure the child/school kept the medication available at all time, as well as make sure they are properly trained how to provide it. And if that was beyond what the school was capable of, then find another school, or homeschool.

                                                                                                            The parents are responsible for their children, and there was several steps they could have done that could have made this avoidable.

                                                                                                            1. Slightly off-track here, but can a severe food reaction be avoided by taking antihistamine or steroid prophylactically? I don't know much about severe food allergies and I'm just curious. I know prolonged steroid use isn't good for the liver etc, etc, but if it worked it would be a better option than dying from an anaphylactic reaction.

                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Billy33

                                                                                                                Neither medication (nor both used together) could reliably prevent an anaphylactic reaction. Both can at times be used in treatment of such a reaction, but are not first line treatments - that's what epinephrine/adrenaline is for, Neither steroids nor antihistamines address all of the processes taking place during anaphylaxis - there is more going on than just a flood of histamines and swelling.

                                                                                                                1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                  I feel sympathy for the family, but also for the restaurant owner.

                                                                                                                  Some of the unknowns here include, did the child ever previously have anaphylaxis from peanuts. Allergic sensitivity can increase with repeated antigen exposure. (It can also diminish.)

                                                                                                                  I ask this because, if not, it has many ramifications. The daughter may not have had access to an epi pen (personally carried or kept by the school nurse), as that level of treatment was not previously necessary. The teacher who organized the catering may have assumed "allergy" meant some kind of unpleasant reactions to foods, but not potentially fatal, as no one told him this. Lots of people have "food allergies". Reasonably speaking, in most circumstances, eliminating normal-recipe-amounts of the products will suffice to satisfy eaters.

                                                                                                                  I have grave doubts that the teacher informed the restaurant owner or representative that there was a risk of death if one of his students consumed even tiny traces of peanut products, and could the restaurant ensure the absolute absence of such. I think any reasonable restaurateur would have said, "I'd like to help you, but I think you should find another caterer."

                                                                                                                  If the teacher gave this level of warning, and the restaurateur agreed that there would be absolutely no peanut product contamination, then the restaurateur was compelled to exercise that strict control. But again, given a busy kitchen with regular customers to serve, I think the vast majority of restaurateurs would just decline the school-party contract, or offer to serve the non-allergic students only, at the school's option.

                                                                                                                  Then too, consider, if the school authorities were duly informed of this student's life-threatening risk, was that information given to the teacher? If yes, why did he choose a Chinese meal? Was he aware that peanut oil is routinely used in Chinese cuisine, for many dishes not containing peanuts?

                                                                                                                  There is also an issue about whether the parents were informed of the plan for a Chinese meal in advance, and if so, did they consider this to be potentially dangerous? For example, maybe they scrupulously avoided taking their daughter to Chinese restaurants. If they practiced this avoidance, but the school didn't notify them of the plan to serve a Chinese meal, the school is liable.

                                                                                                                  Did the parents fill-out a list of foods their daughter could not eat, and did it include "Asian Food", and did the school have this list filed?

                                                                                                                  My suspicion is the girl never previously had an anaphylactic reaction to peanut products, so neither parents nor school was on high alert, but if she had, and the parents did notify the school of this established known risk, the teacher wasn't duly informed.

                                                                                                                  I find it hard (not impossible but hard) to believe that a chain of due notices of potentially-fatal-risk occurred, and the restaurateur was the only person who received the severe-risk warning, and demonstrated he understood it to the ordering teacher, but then cavalierly proceeded to make a peanut-product-contaminated meal. The proposition would just be to scary in the first place.

                                                                                                                  Really,, if the girl had previously sustained anaphylaxis from peanut products, why would any sane person put it upon a Chinese restaurant to prove it could prepare absolutely--peanut-product-absent food, if the ordering party knew or should have known that if the restaurant failed the challenge, an innocent young person could die? It just doesn't make sense.

                                                                                                                  I'm going with the scenario the girl had never previously had an anaphylactic reaction, the teacher's personal take was that she might have some kind of unpleasant, but far-from-fatal reaction if she ate peanuts, so he asked for no peanuts to be put in the food, and the restaurateur duly complied.

                                                                                                                  I know that after I developed mild-to-moderate beesting allergy, I walked through a clover lawn barefoot all the time, I hand-swooshed yellowjackets at picnics, I was comfortable around wasp nests. After having an anaphylactic reaction (age 31), my behavior around hymenopterids radically changed.

                                                                                                                  1. re: MarkKS

                                                                                                                    MarkKS said: "I have grave doubts that the teacher informed the restaurant....
                                                                                                                    Was he aware that peanut oil is routinely used in Chinese cuisine, for many dishes not containing peanuts?"
                                                                                                                    __________________

                                                                                                                    "Gil Ross, an attorney for the family of Katelyn Carlson, 13, said CPS officials told them they had been aware of Carlson's severe peanut allergy."
                                                                                                                    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/20...

                                                                                                                    "One man whose daughter also has a peanut allergy and who was a classmate of Katelyn, told the Tribune his daughter assured him earlier last week that a teacher had called the restaurant several times to make sure peanuts would not be used in the food."
                                                                                                                    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2010/12/2...

                                                                                                                    "The suit claims the teacher told an employee of the Chinese Inn Restaurant the food was for a class party and students in the class had peanut allergies and the restaurant agreed to provide food that was free of peanut oils, peanut derivatives and peanut flavorings.

                                                                                                                    But officials said in January that the food might have been cooked in peanut oil, despite the teacher’s instructions."
                                                                                                                    http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/03/1...

                                                                                                              2. The case filing info is
                                                                                                                Cook County (Illinois) Circuit Court, Law Division, number 2011-L-002914
                                                                                                                filed 3/17/2011

                                                                                                                1. I'd love to know what discussions are going on in the Chinese-language press, serving Chinese restaurants in the US, about this case.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: racer x

                                                                                                                    I think CPS and taxpayers are going to pay the penalty on this one. As I said before, who in his or her right mind would come up with an idea to challenge a peanut and peanut prduct-using facility to produce a meal that was guaranteed to be peanut-product free? If you go to the grocery store and read packaged-products ingredients lists, you sometimes find notices that something is produced in a facility that uses peanuts and/or other nuts. Which is to say, that even though the product you are buying does not contain nuts, the mfr does not guarantee that residues from other products made with nuts are completely absent.

                                                                                                                    Now, you take a mom-and-pop owned restaurant, the cooking staff have been trained in routines, and the school's challenge to it is to make sure things are done differently from these routines. All while the restaurant staff are also simultaneously making their regular-routine dishes, because it didn't close its doors to exclusively serve the school lunch. Did it?

                                                                                                                    Mr. Matsumoto, I think as a personal opinion, may not have thought things through very well.

                                                                                                                    Now let's assume Mr. Matsumoto contacted the owner several times. Did he, on behalf of the school offer some kind of premium price to cover the costs of the restaurateur's scrutinizing ingredients lists, even contacting mfrs to absolutely ascertain whether any ingredients contained peanut derivative substances or not? Plus cleaning and sequestering all utensils away from the ones being used for normal operations. Plus assigning some of the cooking staff the job of only preparing the school meal, no "crossover" preparing routine restaurant fare?

                                                                                                                    You can say the restaurateur took on the challenge without demanding a premium, for these extra work efforts, so he's on the hook. Perhaps he is. And perhaps a jury would find the owner to be "irresponsibly greedy" in taking a contract with express provisions to safeguard the lives of two children, and failing to meet contract provisions.

                                                                                                                    But on the other hand, why did Mr. Matsumoto choose a heavily peanut-protein-"contaminated" facility to cater a party, knowing that at least two children were allergic to peanut proteins? Why would he issue the challenge. "We know your place is rife with peanut proteins, prove to us you can give us lunch without them." I'm not saying the restaurateur is innocent, if he took up the challenge, but why was the challenge concocted in the first place?

                                                                                                                    Secondly, was the restaurateur made aware that at least one child could DIE, if she ate even trace amounts of peanut proteins? I really have doubts that this level of risk was presented, to the understanding of the owner.

                                                                                                                    Overall, I think CPS taxpayers "eat it" because Mr. Matsumoto maintains he called the restaurant SEVERAL TIMES. This means he was not satisfied on one call, or even two, that the restaurateur understood the contractual conditions to scrupulously not-contain any peanut-protein (antigen) contaminants.

                                                                                                                    A reasonable person arguably would have judged after two calls, "I don't think they get it, this is life-threatining proposition, too risky for Catelyn, so we'll do pizza. [Or] we'll call Whole Foods Market, because they do catering, they make delish hot-dish food, and WFM is really knowledgeable about food-ingredeient sensitivities."

                                                                                                                    Not to beat the dead horse, but again, why would any sane person go to a peanut-product-ubiquitous place to get food, when the person knew his/her group had a fatal-risk member?

                                                                                                                    And were Catelyn's parents advised of the plan, the several contacts to the restaurant that seemed to be needed to establish comfort (on Mr. Matsumoto's part) that no peanut-product contamination, in a peanut-ubiqquitous facility, was assured by the restaurant, and did Catelyn's parents "sign off" on this?

                                                                                                                    t

                                                                                                                  2. Today's Washington Post magazine has an true life narrative titled "Tell Us About a Time When a Child Taught You a Lesson. No matter how much we debate the legal and logical aspects of this case, we all wish the Chinese Restaurant incident had played out like the one below. (I've excerpted the parts of this narrative that pertain.)

                                                                                                                    "He couldn't eat a peanut butter sandwich. He couldn't even sit with the other kids at camp for fear of cross-contamination. So I, the youngest counselor at a summer drama program at the Bethesda Academy of Performing Arts, sat with him eating my own lunch. And we talked.

                                                                                                                    ... Rather than see himself as somehow flawed, he strove to learn more and he loved to talk about itl And somehow, it became a friendship, rather than a counselor standing by with an EpiPen and sympathy for an outsider..."

                                                                                                                    1. Something that I did not know about peanuts and airline regulations.

                                                                                                                      Thought it might be interesting for those participating in this discussion about peanuts, food, allergens, etc.

                                                                                                                      http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/04/21/o...

                                                                                                                      1. is there an update to the story yet?????

                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: srsone

                                                                                                                          My guess is it's probably too soon for any any responsibility findings......but here is an interesting view from someone who is a parent of a child with multiple severe food allergies:

                                                                                                                          http://cookingfornoah.com/?tag=kately...

                                                                                                                          1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                                            and i agree with the person writing that story...