Cruise Ship Food Allergy Injury

Cruise Ship Food Allergy Injury Attorneys

Legal help for cruise ship injuries caused by food and drink allergens

Cruise ships are well-known for their food options – whether a fancy sit-down meal, buffet, or snack bars available throughout the day, different varieties of food and drink are available to all passengers almost all the time. However, for those with food allergies, these offerings can be a minefield of danger, especially when items are cooked, served, or labeled improperly.

Individuals with food allergies can suffer serious or even fatal consequences when they unknowingly ingest allergens, including a condition called anaphylactic shock. Cruise ship companies must train their staff about food allergies, as well as how to handle and prepare food in order to keep all passengers safe and healthy. The cruise ship injury attorneys at Hickey Law Firm know how to hold companies responsible when their negligence results in injuries to you or your family. Our firm founder is double board-certified by The Florida Bar in Civil Trial and Admiralty and Maritime law. We have the resources and experience to help.


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What are food allergies?

The Mayo Clinic describes food allergies as:

…an immune system reaction that occurs soon after eating a certain food. Even a tiny amount of the allergy-causing food can trigger signs and symptoms such as digestive problems, hives or swollen airways. In some people, a food allergy can cause severe symptoms or even a life-threatening reaction known as anaphylaxis.

Up to four percent of adults and eight percent of children suffer from food allergies. Many more suffer from food intolerance, which while also serious, does not affect the immune system. Some of the most common food allergies include nuts, eggs, milk, soy, and seafood.

What are the symptoms of an allergic reaction to food?

The symptoms and signs of a food allergy can show up anywhere from minutes to a few hours after ingesting or being exposed to the allergen. Generally, however, symptoms tend to show up immediately. Symptoms can include:

  • Hives or skin rashes
  • Swelling in the lips, eyelids, or tongue
  • Itchy mouth and throat
  • Difficulty swallowing or speaking
  • Coughing, shortness of breath, or wheezing
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal pain
  • Loss of consciousness

In severe allergic reactions, a person may experience anaphylactic shock. This condition is extremely serious, with symptoms including:

  • Constricted airways and swollen throat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drop in blood pressure
  • Rapid pulse
  • Dizziness and/or loss of consciousness

Without proper emergency treatment, anaphylactic shock can lead to coma or death.


What are the treatments for food allergic reactions?

Although those with food allergies typically take every precaution imaginable to avoid and eliminate those foods from their diets, it’s crucial to have emergency medications on hand in the event of anaphylaxis. In addition to wearing a medical alert bracelet, individuals also often carry with them:

  • Epinephrine, like an EpiPen®, that can reverse the symptoms of anaphylactic shock
  • Antihistamines to reduce itching or congestion
  • Corticosteroids to reduce swelling

After an allergic episode, a person should seek immediate medical care and follow-up treatment.

admiralty and maritime law

How do food allergy injuries happen on cruise ships?

Food allergies are far more serious than food intolerance. While intolerance may cause a person relatively mild discomfort for a short time, food allergies can cause sufferers to go into anaphylactic shock. Anaphylactic shock can cause a relatively rapid swelling of the throat area which can result in significant injury or even death.

Cruise companies should do as much as possible to help their guests avoid consuming foods to which they are allergic. When you inform a cruise line of your allergies, ship personnel must be held accountable if you suffer preventable harm. Some common examples of cruise ship negligence that lead to food allergy injuries include:

  • Failure to train staff. Chefs, line cooks, and wait staff must be trained properly on the dangers of food allergies, including proactively asking customers about allergies and disclosing allergens in menu items and specials.
  • Cross-contamination. Improper handling of food can lead to contaminating a non-allergen food with allergens from another. One example of this is frying food with traces of peanut oil when claiming the food item does not contain peanuts. Staff must have proper training and never cut corners when dealing with food allergies.
  • Failure to warn customers. Under the Food Allergen Labeling & Consumer Protection Act (discussed below), packaged food and vitamins must list all major allergens, or the manufacturer can be held accountable under the law.

Our cruise ship injury lawyers can work to find out how your food allergy injury occurred and who was responsible.

Injured on a cruise ship? Let us help you file your lawsuit.

What is the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA)?

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), applicable to all foods labeled after 2006, helps US consumers recognize allergens in food. Note FALCPA applies to labeled foods only. This law requires companies list allergens directly on the package. FALCPA recognizes eight major food allergens:

  1. Milk
  2. Crustacean shellfish
  3. Tree nuts
  4. Fish
  5. Eggs
  6. Peanuts
  7. Wheat
  8. Soybeans

Read more about FALCPA here.

How much time do I have to bring a claim against a cruise line?

Typically, adults have one year to file a claim against a cruise ship. However, the time limit can be up to three years, under federal statute 46 USC Sec. 30508, for fatal injuries or for injuries stemming from the sexual assault of minors or adults deemed legally incompetent. WHERE you file your cruise ship injury lawsuit is almost as important as when; Hickey Law Firm can help.

If you suffered a food allergy injury on a cruise ship, we can help

The maritime law attorneys at Hickey Law Firm have over 40 years of experience in cruise ship accidents and injuries. If you or a member of your family suffered harm due to a preventable food allergy injury, we’re here to help. We understand how to hold cruise lines responsible when their negligence causes harm to their passengers – and we know how to get results.

Talk to one of our skilled attorneys today by calling 305-371-8000 or filling out our contact form. Our initial consultations are free, and every case is taken on a contingency basis.

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