Scarborough: woman wants more allergy awareness after ice cream mix up

The Ice Creamery.
The Ice Creamery.

A MOTHER is pleading for more awareness about food allergies after she suffered an anaphylactic reaction at a Scarborough ice cream shop.

Heather Powell, of Bassendean, spent five hours in hospital earlier this month when she was accidentally served the wrong ice cream flavour.

Mrs Powell said she informed a staff member at Scarborough Ice Creamery she was allergic to nuts, asking her to wash the scoop before serving her Mars Bar flavoured ice cream.

But she was distracted by her children and did not realise she received a scoop of hazelnut before taking a mouthful.

“I took antihistamine straight away, after a few minutes I was coughing and feeling short of breath,” she said.

“I used my EpiPen and after a few minutes I still wasn’t feeling right so I called an ambulance.”

After she recovered, Mrs Powell said she followed up with the business but was dissatisfied with their response.

She said the staff member who served her did not provide assistance during the ordeal but owner Jim Saide disputed this.

“Accidents happen but the staff member’s response at the time was non-existent and the follow up since I’ve tried to contact them has been appalling,” she said.

“I’d like to see this company and any other small food industry businesses put some time into staff training on allergies and first aid in general.

“I think there should be mandatory reporting and follow up with the council’s food safety department for such serious incidents in a food venue.”

Mr Saide agreed his employee served the wrong ice cream flavour but said she was not told about Mrs Powell’s allergy and had her offers to help rejected.

“I do trust my staff,” he said.

“We’ve never had this issue before in nine years.”

He said all ice cream ingredients were listed and the store had put up a sign asking customers to inform staff of any allergies.

The City of Stirling is investigating the incident and planning and development director Ross Povey said it took food safety and compliance seriously.

“The City is currently working with the business owner and complainant to investigate the matter,” he said.

Mrs Powell urged food service industry workers to take allergies seriously and employers to ensure staff have basic first aid training.

“Anxieties from allergies are always there, every time you eat or drink when you’re out,” she said.

“It’s a mask you wear to hide it from the people around you and such events like this really shake your confidence.”

She also encouraged people to learn about anaphylaxis and how to treat it.