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Case Study 2: Fast Food Restaurant

"I get the perception that some people think that food allergies are just only in your heads. Or, when they think of allergy, they think, "Oh just a little skin rash." They don't really know that it can actually kill you." - Interviewee Cheryl A.

The Story

Becky, a 25 year-old businesswoman, has a severe egg allergy. If she eats any foods that contain or have been in contact with egg products, she will go into severe anaphylactic shock. Becky travels weekly for business and usually plays it safe by planning out meals before her trips. One day, she agrees to go on a last-minute business trip when one of her coworkers becomes ill. Her preparation for the trip is rushed, and she does not have any time to plan out her meals or food options.

After arriving in the city of her business meeting, she decides to take her chances and grab lunch at a nearby restaurant. There, she chooses what she thinks is a safe option: a salad with grilled chicken and assorted vegetables. While ordering, she emphasizes the severity of her food allergy and the importance of no egg products touching or being in her salad. The server acknowledges this and goes back to the kitchen to give the cook the order. When handing in the order, the server tells the cook to make sure not to put egg products on the order because the customer is allergic to eggs.

Becky looks over the salad for any signs of egg products when it arrives. The salad looks safe, containing only grilled chicken, romaine lettuce, and veggies. After she takes a few bites, however, she knows something is wrong. Her throat begins swelling and she goes into anaphylactic shock. Her server, who is concerned about her allergy, sees Becky go into anaphylaxis and goes over to her to see if she is okay. The server calls 911 immediately, and an emergency team arrives shortly after.

The emergency team arrives in 15 minutes, immediately administers epinephrine to Becky, and then takes her to the emergency room for further care. Becky is required to stay overnight in order to recover. After Becky is sent to the hospital, the server calls the manager to discuss the issue. The manager is very upset and comes to the restaurant immediately to figure out what happened.

Questions

  1. What are the possible causes of this incident?
  2. If you were the manager, how would you handle this situation?
  3. What could the server have done differently to ensure the safety of Becky's meal?
  4. What should Becky's actions be after this incident?
  5. If you were a member of the restaurant's management, how would you handle the situation after this incident?