Emergency Responses to Food Allergies

What to do in an emergency

Food allergic reactions can be scary and unpredictable. More and more people are showing symptoms of allergic reactions now than ever before. Anyone who serves food needs to be aware of what an allergy is, what symptoms are and how to take care of someone should they have an emergency response. The best thing you can do as a food service professional is arm yourself with knowledge and be prepared for a reaction.

It is important to note that allergic reactions can happen without notice and symptoms can become severe without any warning. Taking a reaction seriously and with caution can give you the power to save a life.

Keys to success when dealing with an emergency

  • Train your team to recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction
  • Implement an allergy alert plan and ensure everyone is prepped to follow suit
  • Stay calm and follow the necessary steps to taking care of someone until help arrives
  • Take everyone’s reaction seriously. Allergic reactions untreated and not taken care of properly can be fatal

Common symptoms of a reaction

  • Widespread hives
  • Pale or blue in color
  • Lips, mouth or tongue swelling
  • Difficulty breathing

What to do (when you notice a reaction)

  1. Ask the person having a reaction if they have their medicine and encourage them to administer it
    1. Medicine used for allergic reactions is called epinephrine; or epi-pen.
  2. Call 911- use terms like “allergy”, “anaphylaxis” or “epinephrine” so they can be as prepared as possible when they arrive.
  3. Do not move or stand the person who is having a reaction.
  4. Stay with them until help arrives. Your presence can be reassuring and you can help them avoid making their situation worse

Helpful tips

  • Most people eat out with family and friends. If someone is having a reaction you can always ask their loved ones if they know where the epinephrine is located and if they are comfortable administering it.
  • If someone uses a single dose of epinephrine and the symptoms don’t get better after 5 minutes, you can suggest a second dose.

If you are the first one to notice an allergic reaction and you are prepped to help someone with the emergency, you can help save a life. Educating yourself and your staff and staying aware ensures the safety of your guests and is a confidence booster for your team. Being calm , respectful and taking the proper steps to make sure help is on the way are the best things you can do!







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