Justyn Page, who has had to manage his allergy to nuts, eggs and dairy from a young age, visited the vegan restaurant Campbell’s Canal Café in Camden with his girlfriend’s mother, intending to take food to eat back to the family’s home. He clearly discussed with staff at the café the safety of ordering a quinoa risotto and had also been advised not to order cheesecake from the menu.
He was, however, assured that a milkshake would be safe for him to drink. But after taking a few sips of the milkshake, Justyn’s throat began to close up, he began to sweat profusely and vomit. Antihistamine tablets from a local shop had no effect.
Justyn was rushed to the Royal Free Hospital and admitted into A&E. His reaction was so severe he suffered respiratory failure which caused cardiac arrest. After being resuscitated, Justyn was placed in an induced coma for five days. He spent more than three weeks in hospital.
It was later discovered that there was a large amount of cashew nut in the ice cream used to make the milkshake.
Dushal said: “The café’s contention was that Justyn should have known that nuts and eggs were used on the premises and that he should not have gone to the restaurant with that knowledge. In other words, that simply by going into the café, he accepted the risk of serious illness, which is ridiculous.
“While clearly most people with allergies are super vigilant when buying food, the onus is on establishments such as restaurants and food outlets to keep people safe. Food outlets must take responsibility for being properly equipped to protect customers so that these tragedies are not allowed to happen.”
When that milkshake was later tested, it was shown to contain more than 400 times the ‘vital number 2’ reference dose. The opinion of the sampling analyst was that the amount of cashew nut in the drink amounted to a breach of the Food Safety Act 1990. The café has since closed down.
Following the attack, Justyn suffered a mild brain injury as a result of a lack of oxygen to the brain. He had to learn to walk again and was left with no strength in his lower body and with breathing difficulties associated with asthma. He was also prescribed anti-depressants by his doctor.
He continues to suffer pains, weakness and unsteadiness around his body and has not been able to return to his previous level of fitness or to continue his dream of becoming a professional boxer.
Justyn Page said: “The restaurant’s ignorance of their own ingredients changed my life forever. There have been too many serious accidents involving hidden ingredients recently, causing terrible tragedy for the families involved. We need an urgent review of the way food is labelled so that everyone knows exactly what they are eating.”
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