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MP Jo Swinson ‘Almost Killed’ By Biscuit Reaction

Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP for East Dunbartonshire who works in the Business Department was at a cake sale held to raise money for Help for Heroes when she started to feel ill.

She has known about her nut allergy for many years but was unaware that the biscuit she ate contained traces of nut.  She praised hospital staff who treated her on Saturday.

What has the MP said? 

Miss Swinson said:

“I had taken the precaution of writing out what had happened in case my throat swelled up so much I couldn’t speak.  Almost instantly I felt a tingling sensation so I knew I had unknowingly eaten a nut.  I immediately drove home and took some antihistamine.  After a while the symptoms were getting worse and my face started to swell, which meant that my body was going into anaphylaxis shock.”

“It’s difficult to always know whether something contains nuts or not – and this time I got it wrong.  I’ve had quite a few attacks over the years, but that was one of the worst.  It was a very scary experience.  Luckily, once you get the right treatment you recover very quickly from it – but the bottom line is that if you don’t get help, you can die.” 

What symptoms can food allergies cause? 

  • a raised red itchy skin rash
  • swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue or the roof of the mouth
  • feeling of narrowing in throat
  • change in voice due to swelling in voicebox
  • feeling lightheaded
  • feeling sick
  • being sick
  • abdominal pain and spasms
  • cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion
  • redness and irritation of the eyes
  • chest tightness
  • wheezing or shortness of breath 

Allergy Statistics 

Allergy UK reports various interesting statistics relating to food allergy: 

  • An estimated 21 million adults in the UK suffer from at least one allergy 
  • An estimated 10 million adults suffer from more than one allergy
  • UK hospital admissions for food allergies have increased by 500% since 1990
  • There are around 30 allergy specialists in the UK, that’s one for every 700,000 sufferers
  • 20% of the population are affected by allergic rhinitis
  • The number of sufferers from rhinitis has tripled in the last 20 years
  • Asthma, Rhinitis and Eczema have trebled in the last 20 years
  • 10% of children and adults under the age of 45 have 2 or more allergies
  • 50% of children and young people have one or more allergy within the first 18 years of life
  • £900million per annum spent by Primary Care is due to allergy
  • £68million per annum is the cost of hospital admissions due to allergy 

What do the specialists say? 

David Healey from Carter & Carter Solicitors commented:

“People who suffer from food allergies take extra care in restaurants and takeaways when choosing their meal due to the potentially fatal consequences of a bad reaction.  Unfortunately, restaurants and takeaways do get it wrong and something which they tell you definitely doesn’t contain nuts, for example, actually does.  If this happens, you are entitled to make a food poisoning claim for compensation.”

For tips on making a food poisoning claim click here:

Read more on the NHS website: