A mother’s plea for food labels to be ‘clearer’ following her 14-year-old son’s ‘traumatic’ allergic reaction prompted Woolworths to take swift action.
The retail giant’s Macro Free Range Australian Chicken Breast Mini Kebabs contain a binder with wheat, one of the top eight allergens. As Food Standards ANZ recommends, the warning is written on the back of the package, but now Woolworths puts it on the front in large print.
Joanne Hagiliasis, founder of the charity Anaphylaxis Network Australia, made the mistake of not checking her back after assuming that macro-branded chicken breasts were as safe as she always gets. He admitted that he had sinned.
“If you live with food allergies, the wrong ingredients can be deadly, so you’ll be very vigilant and try to check labels all your life to keep your kids safe.
“I’m one of those parents who always checks the label to keep my son safe. We made the mistake of assuming that this chicken breast was safe. We made a mistake. I often bought chicken breasts from that company and assumed it was the same product, just a kebab skewer.
“Often, meat, poultry, and other single-ingredient foods have no allergen labeling at all because they are single-ingredients.
Melbourne boy goes into anaphylactic shock
On February 8, Hajiriasis’ son, who is allergic to wheat and nuts, went into anaphylactic shock after eating chicken kebabs.
“The trauma of having an anaphylactic reaction, going to the hospital, having an EpiPen, and having another EpiPen in the ambulance will stay with you for a while,” the mother said.
Thankfully, the 14-year-old survived and was sent home after an overnight hospital stay. The founder of the Anaphylaxis Charity says, “I recommend checking the label every time. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”
My son isn’t the only one having problems with poultry products
After raising awareness about the experience, she claimed that other members of the allergy and celiac community also assumed the product was “safe”. A member commented on the experience on the Anaphylaxis Network Australia Facebook page.
“In Australia, I think our food labeling is good,” said Haggiliasis. “While I understand that Woolworths did the legal minimum to put the label on the back, my concern is that the product was misleading.”
Woolies respond with label changes
The national retailer changed its label in March after a woman brought the matter to Woolworths, and a spokeswoman explained the change to Yahoo News Australia.
“We took the opportunity to update the packaging of our Macro Free Range Australian Chicken Breast Mini Kebabs,” they said. This change has been in place in stores since March 2023. We encourage you to check the full ingredient list on the product packaging before purchasing, if they have any dietary requirements or We will make sure that your preferences are followed.”
When asked how she felt about the change, Hagiriasis said she was “relieved” that retailers were taking the issue “seriously.”
“I’m glad you’ve taken the view that they are potentially dangerous and could even be deadly to someone who has the product,” she said. It’s a serious issue and I’m glad they’ve done what I asked of them to be clearer. ”
She also hopes the change will “prevent other family members from having a serious reaction.”
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