MANDATORY reporting of potentially deadly anaphylactic reactions is to be introduced following the death of a 10-year-old boy after consuming a “coconut drink”.
The move comes as the boy’s mother and brother launch legal action against the company that imported the drink. They claim the company’s negligence and failure to take reasonable care and adhere to consumer laws caused them injury and loss and seek unspecified damages.
Coroner Audrey Jamieson expressed alarm about mislabelled imported foods after keen soccer player Ronak Warty’s life was devastatingly cut short when he had an allergic reaction after consuming the “natural” drink.
Green Time Natural Coconut Drink contained an undeclared milk ingredient, the coroner heard.
The coroner heard the can of Green Time Natural Coconut Drink imported from Taiwan contained an undeclared milk ingredient.
“I think it is alarming that foodstuffs are being imported where the public are being completely misled about the contents,” Ms Jamieson said.
In June she recommended mandatory reporting; saying the lack of such a system had contributed to a month-long delay in recalling the coconut drink. And it wasn’t until another anaphylactic event 18 months later that widespread testing of similar imports was done, triggering further undeclared allergen product recalls.
Health Minister Jill Hennessy told the Coroner she will introduce new laws to make it mandatory for hospitals to report all cases of children presenting at hospitals suffering anaphylaxis to the Department of Health and Human Services’ food safety unit so the cause can be identified.
The scheme will be backed by an education campaign, with details currently being developed by the department.
According to separate statements of claim filed by Kalpana Warty, 55, and Ritesh Rikain Warty, 22, in the County Court they have both suffered psychological injury including post-traumatic stress disorder, complex bereavement disorder.
Ms Warty has also suffered chronic depression as a result of witnessing her son’s injuries and learning of his death, and Mr Warty has suffered complicated grief reaction from witnessing the effect of his brothers injuries and death.
Ms Warty, whose husband Satyajit has died since their son’s death, and her son allege importer Narkena Pty Ltd had a responsibility for the safety and wellbeing of consumers of the drink purchased from a retail outlet in the Burwood One Shopping Centre.
Ronak fell ill after eating a rich soup at dinner and then having the drink at the family’s Burwood East home on December 13, 2013.
He was treated by paramedics and taken to hospital but suffered complete loss of brain function and his life support was withdrawn a week later.
The coroner heard Ronak suffered from allergies to nuts and dairy which parents told investigators they closely monitored and which Ronak also knew to be careful of.
The drink’s Sydney-based importer Narkena Pty Ltd faced a NSW Food Authority criminal prosecution last year.
The business pleaded guilty to three labelling offences and was convicted, fined $18,000 and ordered to pay costs.
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