Allergies: How To Train Staff to Reduce Allergic Reactions and Cross-contamination For Clients


What is an Allergic Reaction?

An allergic reaction represents the way our body responds to what it perceives as an “invader.” The immune system is triggered when the body senses an antigen, aka a foreign substance. The normal function of our immune system is to protect the body from toxins, bacteria and other harmful agents but when the immune system is mistaken, an allergic reaction occurs in people with allergies.
According to the Allergen Bureau, the number of people in Australia suffering from food-induced anaphylaxis is increasing. Each year, the fatalities linked to food-induced allergic reactions rise by around 10%. Despite warning from hospitality staff about the risk of allergies, there are still people that are reported to have severe reactions.

What Should Staff Know About Allergic Reaction Prevention?

In order to fight this problem, a Sydney chef – Alex Herbert – has launched a brand new online training course designed for hospitality workers.

According to Ms Herbert, the idea to create this free online training resource for hospitality workers was drawn from her own life. Her son had extreme allergies and suffered from anaphylaxis, and it is frightening for those people who might inadvertently feed him the wrong food as much as for the sufferer. Due to the sense of helplessness that is involved, this situation became horrifying for people around them. They also had to deal with the feeling of guilt, with a sense that something could have been done better.

According to experts, hospital admissions for anaphylaxis, which is the most extreme form of food allergic reaction, have gone up over the last two decades by five-fold. In this context, the launching of the new website could mark an important step in dealing with the situation.

This website is a world pioneer where visitors can get a free module of online training that is standardised using evidence-based material and is packed with information. Such an initiative can help improving awareness and as a result, reduce the risk of food allergy reactions.

Understanding the importance for an allergy sufferer to avoid food they’re allergic to is more important than learning how to utilise an EpiPen. As with any other medical condition, prevention is better than cure. Eating is a vital part of people’s lives but for those with allergies it can be a matter of life or death.

Here are some real life examples of people suffering of allergies that resulted in anaphylaxis: Jacyln Jauhiainen is allergic to tree nuts such as pine nuts, pistachios, and cashews. After eating nuts, she suffered an extreme allergic reaction. Her breathing became constricted and her lips were swelling up. Her sister had to give her an adrenaline shot on the way to the hospital. The sufferer was really scared, as she always has associated in her mind death with a severe reaction and with having to inject the adrenaline. In fact, the attack could really have killed her.

Another allergy sufferer, David Churley, was eating at a charity lunch when he experienced an extreme allergic reaction within a matter of a few minutes. His friend noticed a full rash on his body and that his eyes started to close. These were the signs that Mr. Churley was starting to go into an anaphylactic attack. As his symptoms kept worsening, his friend called for an ambulance. Mr. Churley received in the ambulance a couple of shots of adrenaline and was rushed to North Shore Hospital. As much as eight doctors were waiting for him at the hospital. For eight hours, he had to be supported with oxygen replacement because of very low oxygen levels. Mr. Churley could have died that day he had not been able to get medical attention in time.
In both of these cases the severe reaction had been triggered due to the cross-contamination of meals.

What Should I Know About Cross-contamination and How to Prevent It?

Ms Herbert said that cutting out cross-contamination was a key to lessen the number of allergic reactions. The only way for this to happen was to make the chefs be aware of how they should have prepared the food.

How Do You Treat Allergic Reactions?

Professor Loh expressed that the throat may swell up when the reaction is severe or life threatening. As it is, the person will have trouble breathing – wheezing may be heard as well. It is like something is tightening in their throat or it could be like a truly bad asthma attack or a bad cough that just would not settle. Not only that, they can sometimes feel faint like they are going to collapse, which means there is a drop in blood pressure, making it very serious.
The professor further said that if the person’s blood does not flow to the brain for one minute, it can cause brain injury or even death. The reaction for some people could be instantaneous, without common pre-warning signs like rash showing up or vomiting.

So, the first thing that you must do if someone appears to have a food-induced allergic reaction is to stop them from walking or standing and let them lie down flat. Because if they do not stop walking or standing, their blood pressure will drop. The blood vessels in the lower limbs will dilate; thus, the blood will just pool there and it is not going to flow into the brain. However, if the person is laid down flat, the blood can flow into the brain. Also, if the person has an EpiPen in their possession and is still conscious, this can be administered by them or by a bystander,


Food-related anaphylaxis fatalities on the rise in Australia


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