The family of a 6-year-old girl from Natick, Massachusetts, is suing the Panera Bread restaurant chain for putting peanut butter on the child's grilled cheese sandwich.
The girl, whose name has not been disclosed, has a severe peanut allergy, and had to be hospitalized after eating some of the sandwich, the Boston Globe reports.
The mother, Elissa Russo, ordered the sandwich online, specifying explicitly in the order that her daughter had a peanut allergy.
Unfortunately, the Panera Bread employee who prepared the sandwich apparently interpreted that as a request to add peanut butter to the sandwich.
After eating some of the grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwich, the child began vomiting, and was taken to a local hospital. She later developed hives and was given a shot of epinephrine. She was discharged the next morning.
“Epinephrine (adrenaline) is the only available treatment for a severe peanut allergy reaction,” notes PeanutAllergy.com.
The manager of the Panera Bread location apologized in a telephone conversation with the girl’s father, John Russo, implying that the employee who prepared the sandwich does not understand English, and misinterpreted the order.
The Russos are not buying the excuse, and have sued the restaurant on the grounds that it “engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by adding peanut butter to the plaintiff’s grilled cheese sandwich knowing that [she] has a life-threatening peanut allergy.”
More than 3 million people in the U.S. report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both.
Peanut allergy is the most common cause of food-related death, according to the statistics page at PeanutAllergy.com.
It takes only trace amounts of peanuts to cause an allergic reaction, according to Food Allergy Research and Education, especially if it comes into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth.