Child \'almost dies\' after taking store sample

Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 9:39am
Jana R's picture
Joined: 02/09/1999 - 09:00

[url=""]Child 'almost dies' after taking store sample[/url]

[i]Child 'almost dies' after taking store sample

01:05 PM CST on Friday, February 10, 2006


Ashley Roman said her son, Joey, had an allergic reaction to a nut shell.
Also Online

Debbie Denmon reports

Joey Roman is like most two-year-olds: fascinated to get his hands on anything.

But what he got his hands on at Whole Foods Market recently was anything but fun.

"They were terra chips and I took a sample, my husband took a sample, and we let Joey reach over and take a sample," said Joey's mom, Ashley Roman. "Within a couple of seconds, he started gagging."

Roman said she first thought Joey had a chip lodged in his throat.

She said the problem turned to be a pistachio shell he had grabbed from the chip tray.

"Within a minute or so my husband said, 'my baby can't breathe,'" Roman said. "I looked over and you couldn't recognize his face."

It was so serious, Joey had to be rushed to the emergency room at Children's Medical Center.

"I was afraid he was going to stop breathing; I was afraid they were going to have to do a tracheotomy; I was afraid his heart was going to stop," Ashley Roman said.

E.R. doctors said Joey had a severe allergic reaction called anaphylactic shock.

"It's rare but it certainly can cause one to die," said Dr. Robert Wiebe of Children's Medical Center.

The Romans had no idea until this incident their son was allergic to nuts.

"All you could see were chips - you couldn't see pistachio shells," Ashley Roman said. "They were mixed in at the bottom of it."
Samples are offered in many stores.

The family wants Whole Foods Market to pay more than $7,000 in medical bills.

The store's insurance offered $1,400 - an amount Roman said is roughly their out-of-pocket expenses.

"The sample trays are still sitting out there, unmonitored and unattended, even though they know that this was something somebody almost died over this," she said.

Whole Foods issued this statement:

"Reported allergies to nuts, particularly in children, are on the rise for reasons that are not yet clear. Because the mother of the child says she missed work to take her child to the doctor for a potential nut allergy from sampling nuts at one of our stores, we offered to reimburse her for the time she lost from work."

According to the City of Dallas food protection and education division, grocery stores like Whole Foods can offer samples, but the samples must be covered, and tongs or napkins should be in place for customers to use to pick up the sample food.

"When food is on display to be sampled, it needs to be protected from consumer contamination," said Ashan Khan, . If it is ready-to-eat food there shouldn't be bare hand contact with the food," said Ahsan Khan, division manager of food protection and education.

The Romans say they don't want to sue - they just want an apology and they want to send a message.

"If people want to sample... beware it's a risk... and it's a big one," Ashley Roman said.

They're just glad Joey is alive and well.[/i]

The family is asking WFM for $7,000 - the article doesn't really explain how Whole Foods would be held responsible since the family didn't know the toddler was nut-allergic and they allowed him the samples. But I'd be curious to know more.



Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 9:55am
toomanynuts's picture
Joined: 08/23/2003 - 09:00

Why would the samples have nut shells on the bottom of a chip sample. I would sue just for that ha! Never take a sample and never let DD near one either. Gross!

Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 9:59am
MimiM's picture
Joined: 10/10/2003 - 09:00

I think that's all the more reason that WFM should be responsible. If the mother knew that her son was allergic, she probably would not have allowed him to have the sample. There is always the chance that someone unknowingly might eat from a sample plate before knowing that they have a particular food allergy (especially young children). It is up to the store to make sure that sample dishes are clean. The food available should also be labelled (in my opinion).

Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 10:11am
Jana R's picture
Joined: 02/09/1999 - 09:00

I just don't think folks who know they have life-threateing food allergies sample food at all from store displays. Since no one knew this child had allergies, no one could have prevented this from happening. Yeah, it'd be great to have things clearly marked with ingredients but how on earth could they prevent cross contamination? If stores could provide samples from unopened packages to those who have known food allergies, GREAT! but since this wasn't a concern when the family went in the store, then I can't tell from this article why it's WFM fault this child had an allergic reaction? JMHO

Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 1:04pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Jana, I agree with you. The parents didn't know the child was allergic. In fact, it's almost a positive thing that the child tried the sample and they found out that he is TNA. That whole personal responsibility thing I think. They allowed the child to have a sample - not knowing that their child was allergic to anything.
How did all of us find out our children were allergic? If Grandma gave the kid pb on toast one day and it was found out the child was PA because of that - jeez, could we sue Grandma?
Here, in Canada, in the grocery stores that I shop in that have samples, there is a very clear sign with two things - an allergy warning and also that a parent has to be with a child for them to be able to sample something.
My children are allowed to sample things that are PA safe.
Even if they did know that their child was TNA, is it not the parents' responsibility to ask if there were any tree nuts in the product before they allowed the child to have a sample?
If the situation is as the article reads, I think the parents should be thanking the store rather than suing them.
It's a strange world we live in.
Best wishes! [img][/img]
"That was Polanski. Nicholson got his nose cut."

Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 2:05pm
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

Boy, wish there was just a tad more info on this one. My guess is that the problem is that the nutshell should never have been in with the chips in the first place. I would be upset by that. I couldn't imagine trying to hold the store responsible if it had been the chips themselves that the child had reacted to, but it really sounds like either the sample tray had been reused or somebody's trash had gotten into it (UGH!). That's a health problem either way. I'm glad the little boy is okay, and now his parents will be better informed about how to keep him safe in the future.

Posted on: Fri, 02/10/2006 - 8:08pm
williamsmummy's picture
Joined: 03/26/2002 - 09:00

I think the angle should change, what about the hygeine factor? where the shells meant to be there as part of the chips?
somehow I dont think so.
What are the food safety regulations for food samples in stores?

Posted on: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 12:04am
McCobbre's picture
Joined: 04/16/2005 - 09:00

The sample trays at Whole Foods (at least the ones in Dallas and Houston that I've seen ) are two tall for most two-year olds to reach alone (so I'm wondering if they were holding him???). And they're closed--with a dome over them (they can remain open, though). I think WF usually takes precautions is what I'm saying.
No--a pistachio shell should **not** have been in there. That little boy is lucky to be alive---unknown FA or not. Even if someone weren't allergic, it could have choked someone. That's a liability thing on WF part and $1700 or $7000 is just part of the playing the game here. But they're a good company. A wonderful company. And this stuff just happens sometimes.
Samples? I admit I have let DS take fruit samples at WF before--ones on top. But then I thought about cross contamination possibilties and put an end to that.
This is an awful story, but at least this little boy turned out okay. The WF locations I can think of in Dallas are all pretty close to hospitals. Good thing.

Posted on: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 12:54am
LisaM's picture
Joined: 11/04/2005 - 09:00

I agree that it is difficult to judge this situation without all the info---maybe the boy's parents had held off on feeding him nuts on account of family medical history.
Yesterday I was at WholeFoods in Toronto, and I noticed 1) the bulk nuts in the produce section were removed
2) when I stopped by the meat counter (which I stayed away for awhile on account of the fact that a sausage which according to the ingredients label contained peanuts was next to the chicken....but they got rid of the sausage because of this)....anyways, as I was saying, when I stopped by the meat counter there were two employees discussing the changes they were making to the labelling of the ready-made meat products (in a separate case from the other meat products). "flavours" and "spices" are going to be specified. After reading about this story in Dallas I'm wondering if the heightened concern about allergies in the Toronto store is related----maybe Whole Foods is looking more carefully at things. I do think that this company is allergy-aware anyways, but it is good to see them become more so. I wish they would get rid of the peanut butter making machine---I haven't had a reaction when walking past it, but the stench is nauseating when the machine is in operation. I avoid the section if the machine is in use or hold my breath!

Posted on: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 1:44am
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Lisa M., what part of Toronto is there a Whole Foods store in? Is it a health food type store?
To me it sounds like one and I'm always more cautious with my PA son in a health food store than I am at a regular grocery store because of usually the more peanut/nut factor.
The sample counters at the two grocery stores where I encountered them, Sobey's and ValuMart look quite clean to me. They're also separate from the food being sold by a bit, so whatever is being served as a sample wouldn't have a stray pistachio shell suddenly hit the table. I don't know.
So, I guess the ? is, was the pistachio nut part of the cracker?
I don't know, it's pretty clear to me, in Canada, from the labeling at the stores I've gone to, that if I sample, I'm sampling at my own risk or allowing my children to do so. My guy tried vanilla milkshake last week - I okayed it (had read the label) and I'm sorry, if he had a reaction after that, it would have been MY responsibility, IMPHO, not the store's.
For the most part, when there are samples to be had, my PA son can't have any - "may contain". My daughter absolutely loves to sample different things and she is allowed to if she is with me without her brother and if there are no direct peanut products involved (or tree nuts). So, even her, with NKFA, I accept responsibility for what I am allowing her to sample.
Perhaps it's something I'm missing. [img][/img]
Best wishes! [img][/img]
"That was Polanski. Nicholson got his nose cut."

Posted on: Sat, 02/11/2006 - 3:02am
anonymous's picture
Joined: 05/28/2009 - 16:42

My tna pa son had an anaphalactic reaction to mislabelled chocolate chip cookies that I bought from Whole Foods. It was before I stopped buying anything from bakeries....learning curve, I guess...but at the time they were labelled as chocolate chip, and I read the label twice, no mention of nuts. Turns out they had put WALNUT COOKIES in the box. My son took one bite, said "mom, these have nuts...." the rest is history. He swelled up, threw up, started to have trouble epipen and a trip to the ER later, we never, ever shop at Whole Foods. They were very apologetic, paid all our med bills, did employee training, etc. But I still won't step foot in a Whole Foods. The bakery manager told me about her son's life threatening allergy to beef...still I never buy baked goods and the thought of Whole Foods...yikes!
mom to Ari(5) - severe nut allergies, asthma, you name it - and Maya (8), mild excema


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