FoodFacts.com wanted to devote this blog post in honor of 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi who tragically died on Saturday, July 27th from a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter while she was attending Camp Sacramento in El Dorado County, California.
The 13 year-old was vigilant about what she ate. Family and friends say that she always made sure that her food did not contain her allergen. She was educated and aware about keeping herself safe from her severe food allergy. Her parents were vigilant in educating her and keeping her safe.
The Giorgi family were vacationing at the popular Camp Sacramento. They had enjoyed their week together and on the last evening of their vacation, they attended a campfire with other guests. Knowing that there were snacks available in the lodge as after campfire treats, Natalie went in to help herself.
The lights in the lodge had been dimmed. There were three varieties of Rice Krispies treats available for the group. Sadly, Natalie had reached for a treat topped with icing. The icing had been prepared with peanut butter. She spit the offending Rice Krispy treat out right away and ran to find her mom to tell her she had tasted something containing peanut butter.
Her parents, Sacramento urologist Dr. Louis Giorgi and his wife, Joanne, responded immediately. Natalie’s mother tasted the treat and also detected peanuts. She gave Natalie Benadryl right away. They monitored their daughter, who at first seemed fine. But twenty minutes later, she vomited and began to have trouble breathing.
Natalie’s father administered an injection with an EpiPen, a device used to deliver epinephrine that is commonly carried by individuals with serious allergies. An EpiPen can ward off a sever allergic reaction, but this time it didn’t. Natalie’s dad used three EipPens over the course of several minutes before Natalie stopped breathing.
Natalie’s parents are reaching out to others in their grief, releasing the following statement:
“While our hearts are breaking over the tragic loss of our beautiful daughter Natalie, it is our hope that others can learn from this and realize that nut and food allergies are life threatening. Caution and care for those inflicted should always be supported and taken.”
Dr. and Mrs. Giorgi and Natalie, this blog is for you.
Peanuts are the most prevalent allergen in food allergic children, followed by milk and shellfish, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Reactions could range from minor irritation to life-threatening anaphylaxis, a dangerous immune system reaction that requires immediate treatment with an EpiPen and trip to the emergency room. Symptoms can include skin reactions like hives, redness or swelling or itching and tingling in the mouth and throat, digestive problems like diarrhea, cramps or vomiting, tightening of the throat, shortness of breath and runny nose.
It’s not just peanut-allergy afflicted children and their parents that need to be aware and vigilant, it’s also everyone that they come in contact with. There’s a reason there are peanut free tables in school cafeterias. And there’s a reason that buffet tables in restaurants often put a tent card next to desserts that contain peanuts … as well as a reason that many food manufacturers have voluntarily labeled products that are produced in facilities that also manufacture foods containing peanut ingredients. Parents and children can be as vigilant as possible, but as this tragic situation proves, they really do need a little help, because spitting out the offending food item isn’t enough to prevent a tragedy sometimes.
So FoodFacts.com feels that this is an appropriate time to remind our community that if you’re preparing snacks for your child’s class, or you’re having people to your home for dinner, or you’re bringing a dish to a potluck, it’s worth asking if anyone has any specific food allergies and preparing foods accordingly. It’s a small part we can all play in helping children – and adults – stay safe from potentially life threatening situations. Natalie and her loving family and friends will appreciate our efforts.