Change in law in Victoria to improve safety of people with food allergy - 1 Nov 2018
Victorian hospitals must now report all cases of anaphylaxis to the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services. This includes anaphylaxis presentations to emergency departments, those as a result of food challenges and those caused by medication, food and other triggers within the hospital environment. Notification of anaphylaxis as a result of a packaged food must happen immediately by phone.
Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia’s hope is that this initiative will be rolled out nationally and we will be working to do this through the National Allergy Strategy. The Victorian reporting system will not only assist us in increasing safety when packaged food contains undeclared food allergens and needs to be promptly recalled from the market place and people’s pantry’s, but also assist in collecting data on all anaphylaxis to help drive conversations to improve safety and the quality of life of people with allergic disease. We commend Victorian Coroner Audrey Jamieson for this recommendation as part of the inquiry into Ronak Warty’s death which was handed down in June 2016 and the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services for their part in expediting the change in legislation.
The media release on the mandatory reporting of anaphylaxis can be found at: https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/anaphylaxis-notifications
Please read below for some background on the sequence of events that lead Coroner Jamieson to make the recommendation that is now law in Victoria:
Just after Christmas in 2013, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia started receiving donations in memory of a child who died as a result of anaphylaxis in Victoria. Maria Said, A&AA CEO, reached out and offered to speak with the family. Maria spoke with the father of young Ronak who had cow’s milk, peanut and tree nut allergy in early January 2014. As the story unfolded Maria became concerned about the can of coconut drink that Ronak had a sip of soon before the allergic reaction commenced. The father communicated that the same can of coconut drink was with the coroner. Maria urged the grieving father to go back to the same Asian grocery store and buy another identical can. She asked him to take photos of the can including name, expiry date, batch number etc and to email it to her along with the name and address of the grocery store.
It was some days before Ronak’s dad was able to do this – a huge task for someone who has just lost his son. Maria called the Victorian Food Safety Unit and communicated her concerns saying that she felt the coconut drink may have contained an undeclared allergen, likely to be milk, which triggered the reaction. Once the photos with defining details of the product were sent to the Victorian health department, the product was promptly tested and the result was that the product contained undeclared cow’s milk. This then triggered the food recall of the Narkena Natural Coconut Drink.
Maria then wrote to the coroner explaining the circumstances including the dangerous delay in the coconut drink containing undeclared cow’s milk being investigated and then recalled, putting others with cow’s milk allergy at risk.
The coronial findings and recommendations into Ronak’s death and the deaths of others can be found at
Contents created 1 November 2018