Singapore

SIA reviews serving of peanuts on flights after boy's allergic reaction

Airline acts following boy's allergic reaction to presence of peanuts in cabin

Singapore Airlines (SIA) said yesterday that it is reviewing the serving of nuts on board its flights, following an incident last week where a toddler had an allergic reaction to peanuts eaten by other passengers.

Three-year-old Marcus was served a nut-free meal on board flight SQ217 from Singapore to Melbourne last Wednesday.

But after passengers opened packets of peanuts that were served as a snack, the boy "started vomiting, his eyes were starting to swell and he couldn't speak properly", his Australian father, Mr Chris Daley, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.

His wife, Madam Hong Daley, also Australian, was on the flight too.

An SIA spokesman said: "Currently, customers with nut allergies can request for a nut-free meal at the point of booking or at least 48 hours before their flight. Following the incident, we are reviewing the serving of nuts on board our flights."

According to the family, Marcus had anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction that can be caused by certain food, medication, or insect bites and stings.

After crew members were alerted to the boy's reaction, they removed all packets of peanuts from the area around the family, said the spokesman. The serving of peanuts was also suspended in the cabin for the remainder of the flight, he added.

The boy recovered after his parents gave him anti-allergy medication that they had brought onto the flight.

The spokesman said it is in contact with the family.

Doctors said cases involving a severe reaction after mild exposure to peanuts were rare. In addition, Asians are generally less susceptible to such a reaction, compared to Caucasians.

Dr K. V. Ratnam, an expert in allergies said the child might be extremely sensitive to peanuts.

"The child might be severely allergic to have anaphylaxsis after just breathing in allergens from peanut vapour," added Dr Ratnam, who runs a private practice at Ratnam's Allergy & Skin Centre.

He added that anaphylaxsis is the "worst possible scenario" as it is fatal if not treated within three to four minutes.

"They will die as they would be unable to breathe and their blood pressure will drop," said Dr Ratnam.

It is estimated that about one in 200 people here have a peanut allergy. However, most peanut allergies do not lead to anaphylaxis, especially for Asians.

An all-out peanut ban on flights is not the norm for airlines. But several carriers have gone one step further by offering nut-free flights, including Qantas and Air New Zealand.

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