It’s a snowy day in New York City, so after a round of shopping, you and your friend decide to head to a newly opened cafe in Midtown for coffee and a snack. When you tell the server that you’re allergic to hazelnuts, he recommends a pastry that the menu board advertises as being nut free.

You and your friend sit down and eat. It doesn’t take long, though, to realize that the pastry or the coffee (or both) have been exposed to hazelnuts. You break out in hives, can’t swallow, and your tongue and lips swell. Soon you feel nauseous and can’t breathe. The last thing you remember before passing out is your friend calling 911.

An estimated 32 million Americans have food allergies. When they go to a restaurant or buy packaged food, they have to trust the management or manufacturer’s promises that the food does not contain ingredients that are dangerous for them. Unfortunately, in some cases, their faith is misplaced, and they suffer a severe allergic reaction. According to, every year, 200,000 people in the U.S. go to the emergency room after experiencing a serious allergic reaction to something they ate.

Symptoms of anaphylaxis include:

  • Flushing, becoming pale or breaking out in hives
  • Difficulty swallowing and/or breathing
  • Tingling hands and feet
  • The sensation of having a lump in your throat
  • Swollen lips or tongue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting

If anaphylaxis develops into anaphylactic shock, then you will experience symptoms like the following:

  • Mental confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Inability to breathe
  • Loss of consciousness

In some cases, death can result. An estimated 186 to 225 people die from anaphylactic shock each year. Not all of these cases involve food allergies, but they account for a significant percentage.

Making a personal injury claim against a manufacturer, retailer, or restaurant is not easy. You have to act fast and collect evidence: in this case, samples of the food you ate or the same food item made from the same ingredients. These samples can be tested to confirm whether or not the food contained the allergen that produced such a severe reaction. If you or someone you love has become seriously ill after being served or purchasing improperly labeled food, then contact a New York personal injury attorney. An attorney with a background in food allergy injuries will advise you on what steps you need to take to pursue a legal claim and help you fight for the compensation you need to recover from the illness and stabilize your future. Successful lawsuits also send the message that food allergies are a serious matter and food servers or manufacturers need to take greater care.

Jayson Lutzky is a Bronx, NY personal injury attorney. If you are seeking legal advice, then call 718-514-6619 to set up a free in-person initial consultation. In the event of serious injury, home and hospital visits may be available.