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Emmerdale, Jacob nearly died!

I haven’t watched Emmerdale since it was Emmerdale Farm, last century, so I don’t know many of the characters now. OK, there are a few familiar names and faces, but as for the storyline, I have no idea what’s been going on.

Now, we all know soaps are fictional stories. They are not real, right!? Whilst that is the case, many of the storylines are based on facts, so we need to sit up and listen. These situations really happen, daily. What do you do? Are you prepared? Are you doing everything possible to avoid this happening to you, your loved ones, or your business?

I heard from a friend that there was an episode where Jacob nearly died from anaphylaxis. I had no clue as to who Jacob is, but anaphylaxis, that I do know something about. I watched on catch-up because we don’t generally have soaps on in our house. Taking in every detail, I saw so many things go wrong, breaches of Food Information Regulations, lack of first aid knowledge and equipment, an adrenaline pen that malfunctioned, no 2nd adrenaline pen to hand, we did not see an ambulance called, etc.

I saw how the pub staff knew there had been a change of dressing, but they didn’t make that information available for anyone else. Jacob asked if there were nuts in any of the food, and was told, ‘No, you’ll be OK’, all the while the girl had a look of guilt on her face.

What should happen in food businesses?

It is a legal requirement for all food businesses to have documented information about the top 14 food allergens, as used in any food they serve. This is permitted to be relayed to the customer verbally, but there must be documentation, a hard copy, which the customer may ask to see. It is an offence if this is not available. It is also an offence to say that you don’t know what’s in the food. As I teach my Food Safety students, ‘If it’s not written down and recorded, it didn’t happen. You have no Due Diligence Defence in a Court of Law.’

Many establishments now rely on digital versions of their allergen information, but what happens if the system fails, the battery runs out on the tablet because someone forgot to put it on charge, or there is a power-cut?

When there is a buffet, as was the case in Emmerdale, there must be information available for each dish. This could be in the form of a leaflet or booklet at one end of the table, or labels beside each serving platter. It’s not difficult to do, yet I have never seen it done anywhere, other than my own business when I was in Sussex some years ago. Yes, it takes time and effort to produce the information, but what is that in comparison to a hefty fine, court costs, legal fees, loss of reputation, loss of business, or even be closed down?

I was at a Mock Trial the other day, and it was an eye-opener to see what happens there, and what can happen for the business. More about this another time.

Going back to the story in Emmerdale, there are several other points I want to pick up on.

The first AAI used for Jacob malfunctioned and did not deliver the adrenaline required. There was not a second pen to hand, and someone went to his car to look for another one. Eventually the second pen was found and administered successfully, but that wasted time could have been the difference between life and death for Jacob. If you have been prescribed AAIs, always carry them with you.

The following day, we saw Jacob in hospital, wired up to all manner of medical equipment.

It must be emphasised that anaphylaxis is a medical emergency. Rapid action is required because the person affected could be dead within minutes if you delay. I have now listened to a witness statement several time, of Ruth Holroyd of What Allergy, and is has brought me to tears both times. Ruth had been assured that the food served to her did not contain milk, but it did, and she needed intensive care at hospital, was unable to work, and now suffers PTSD. Read Ruth’s blog here What Allergy - Allergies, Anaphylaxis, Eczema, TSW & asthma

We also saw Jacob’s mother going all guns blazing because her son nearly died due to someone’s incompetence. Well, wouldn’t you? I mean, as a mother myself, the ‘Tiger Mum’ comes out when my offspring are put in danger, and quite rightly so. Jacob was in no fit state to deal with the situation himself, so someone had to speak for him.

In another episode a staff member was sacked, and Jacob was back at home, playing down the events of the past few days.

Please follow me for more about this story, and more about how people and businesses are affected by food allergies.

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