Healthy fast food franchise SumoSalad is changing its food labelling after a customer went into anaphylactic shock and shared her story on Facebook.
Ellie Rimmer purchased a beetroot and pumpkin salad from a SumoSalad store in Victoria Gardens, Melbourne.
An hour later she went into massive anaphylactic shock, fell unconscious, stopped breathing and was rushed to hospital after being administered five shots of adrenaline.
“I was later told by the paramedics who treated me that it was the worst case of anaphylaxis they had ever seen, and the treating doctor informed me that I would have died if I didn’t get the adrenaline when I did,” Rimmer posted on Facebook.
Rimmer has an allergy to nuts and there were walnuts present in the salad, which was not displayed on the salad’s labelling.
However, as SumoSalad’s salads are prepared fresh daily on the premises and are not sold as packaged goods, there is no legal obligation on the business to display information about the presence of walnuts in the salad.
Rimmer took to Facebook after trying “countless times” to contact SumoSalad about her experience.
“I have been hand-balled from one department to another, promised that someone would get back to me, and I have heard nothing.”
“I have tried to be polite to all members of your staff that I have come into contact with throughout this ordeal, and frankly I find it disappointing that I have had to resort to Facebook in an attempt to get an answer from you,” she wrote.
In her post, Rimmer called for SumoSalad to change its labelling to include identification of nuts.
“The way I see it, your legal obligations are one thing, but your business practices and the ways in which you promote yourselves to the general public are another,” she wrote.
The post received over 300 likes, prompting SumoSalad to investigate her claims.
The chief executive and founder of SumoSalad, Luke Baylis, told SmartCompany sensitivity information was available in store and online already, but in response to Rimmer’s experience the franchise would display the information on its labelling from September onwards.
“While we are not legally obliged to display this information on ticketing as our products are prepared daily and are not packaged goods, we have made the decision to do this when we next change our tickets in September,” Baylis says.
He says although the responsibility lies with the individual to manage their own dietary requirements if they have an allergy, SumoSalad wants to ensure what happened to Rimmer does not happen again.
“Life threatening allergic reactions can have catastrophic results. SumoSalad believes this small change to ticketing will go a long way to demonstrating to our customers that their health and wellbeing is of the highest priority to us, and if a similar allergic reaction could be avoided in the future, then it’s worth it,” he says.
For her part, Rimmer told SmartCompany she is “quite proud” of the change she has managed to bring about.
“The whole experience was pretty scary, so to be able to change it for the next person is excellent,” she says.
She says the only reason she went on Facebook was she had no luck contacting SumoSalad over the telephone.
“I had been trying to contact SumoSalad for a week and a half, but you put it on Facebook and you become a high priority, so it shows the power of social media,” she says.
“I thought if I could get a couple of ‘likes’ on this, that would be great, but it went much further than that.”