After Death Caused by Peanut Allergy, Israel Faces Food Label Reform

Correction: Nutella does NOT contain peanuts as previously stated in this article. Thank you for calling this to our attention and we apologize for the confusion.

In Tel Aviv, a 26-year-old woman recently died after eating Nutella at a restaurant. The headlines from this unfortunate death, caused by the woman's severe nut allergy, have ignited conversation about whether Israel is doing enough to protect those with food allergies.

The death of Chen Efrat has reminded many Israelis of the serious nature of food allergies, causing health authorities to begin raising awareness of the prevalence of such allergies in an attempt to get more people to take the issue seriously.

Efrat, who knew that she had a nut allergy, reportedly asked the restaurant server repeatedly to check whether the Belgian waffle's nut free. She was assured that she would be getting a pure chocolate, nut-free spread but was instead served Nutella which is peanut-free but contains hazelnuts. She was rushed to the hospital immediately after eating the dessert, and died several days later. Her parents have just filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, alleging that the waiter should not have assured their daughter that the dessert was safe.

Allergy awareness is tricky in Israel, where most babies' first food is Bamba, corn puffs covered in peanut butter. The country's Ministry of Health currently requires products containing the eight most common food allergens to include 'contains' or 'may contain' labeling. Following Efrat's death, steps are now being taken to require clearer and more noticeable allergy warnings, similar to those found in other countries. Although there are no plans to require restaurants to list allergen warnings on the menu, Israel does plan to produce a guide to help allergen sufferers navigate restaurants and other sources of non-packaged foods.

Read more about Israel's recent push for food label reform here: http://blogs.forward.com/the-jew-and-the-carrot/140905/

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