Roughly two weeks ago, a 19 year old college freshman died after eating a cookie he believed was free of peanuts. At it turns out, the cookie was made with peanut oil. The student had a severe allergy to peanuts which he'd known about since he was a young child. Later, while in high school, he learned he was allergic to all nuts.
According to an online news source*, the student was home from spring break and was with a friend. The two bought some cookies. After eating half a cookie, the student began having symptoms of anaphylactic shock and was having difficulty breathing. His mother was unable to locate his Epi-Pen among his packed bags. She was able to find one she kept at her home. The problem was that the EpiPen had expired by two months. The emergency operator instructed her not to use the expired Epi-Pen. Later, after her son succumbed, she learned that she could have used the expired Epi-Pen. Although it might not have worked, it could have or at least, had a small effect and helped.
Severe peanut allergies are on the rise and while parents may be able to control their children's diets at home, their adult children might not be ready or prepared to handle their food allergies, especially very serious ones.
When a child with a severe food allergy, like a peanut allergy, grows up and goes to college, the repercussions of a small, honest mistake can be deadly. Peanut oil is increasingly used, even in oil blends. For an unsuspecting peanut allergy sufferer, ingesting even a small amount of peanut oil can be fatal. This is exactly what occurred in this recent, tragic case.
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