Friday, June 17, 2005

Did fleishich Kosher deli serve real cheese? 8-year-old girl allergic girl hospitalized last month after eating chicken-wing with "nondairy" tofu.


At 11:09 AM, Blogger jewishwhistleblower said...

Name: Zan's Deli
Phone: 979-8770
Address: 135 Alexander Ave, Lake Grove
Category: Meat
Hashgacha: Dix Hills Jew. Ctr.

DAIRY DRAMA AT DELI. Allergic girl goes into shock, eatery sued
New York Daily News
May 15, 2005

LAUREN ROBINSON will break out in hives if she touches a Cheese Doodle. She'll get sick if she kisses a relative with traces of milk on his or her lips.

In fact, the 8-year-old Farmingville girl is so allergic to dairy products that if you feed her cheese, she could die in minutes.

Lauren got the scare of her life, her parents said, when she unknowingly ate cheese last month at a kosher restaurant in Lake Grove.

One bite into a potato skin covered in what Zan's Deli owners assured her parents was nondairy tofu "cheese" sent the gravely ill girl to the emergency room, her parents said.

It also sparked what is shaping up to be a fierce legal battle.

"I told the owners she would die if there's any dairy in her food. They assured me she could eat anything on the menu," said Lauren's mother, Melissa, 34, regarding the April 1 incident.

"She took one bite and started going into shock. She spent the night in ICU at the hospital."

Melissa Robinson and her husband, Kenneth, 37, an NYPD detective, hired a lawyer and plan to sue Zan's owners, brothers Pat and Tony Ruggiero.

The Ruggieros say they are appalled by the implication that dairy food was inside their strictly kosher eatery, located near the Smith Haven Mall. Their lawyer threatened to counter-sue.

"[Melissa Robinson] is impugning their integrity. She's damaging their business," said the Ruggieros' attorney, Bruce Parnell. "If she starts a lawsuit, within three hours, these people will be sued for defamation, abuse of process and fraud."

Parnell said the Ruggieros filed a complaint with the Suffolk County district attorney's office.

"She is claiming something that is absolutely impossible," he said. "There were no dairy products in this restaurant. There never was. There never will be."

The Ruggieros learned of Lauren's allergic reaction and trip to University Hospital at Stony Brook from a Suffolk health department inspector, Parnell said.

The inspector, on April 5, issued a clean report for Zan's: "No deficiencies in food handling or service were noted relating to the reported incident."

On April 8, the state Department of Agriculture and Markets said in a report that "no dairy" was used at Zan's. Under Jewish law, kosher eateries serving meat cannot have any dairy product on the premises.

"It's a tragedy if you have a lactose intolerant child," Parnell said. "But she was not served anything dairy [at Zan's]."

Lauren is not lactose intolerant. Far worse, she has a dairy allergy that can kill her.

At school, the second-grader has a constant "shadow," an aide who follows her throughout the day, making sure Lauren never comes in contact with anything dairy.

When Lauren bit into the Zan's potato skin with tofutti cheese, her throat immediately started to swell and a blister formed on her lip, Melissa Robinson said.

Lauren was slipping into anaphylactic shock as her mom ran to the car to get the adrenaline shot needed in such emergencies, Lauren's mother said.

"The shot gives us 15 minutes to get to the hospital," Melissa Robinson said.

"When we got to the trauma room, she was screaming at the top of her lungs. She had burns all over her face."

Parnell said Lauren's mother told Tony Ruggiero that her daughter's mouth was burning from eating a hot chicken wing.

Caption: JULIA XANTHOS Melissa Robinson and daughter, Lauren, 8, in front of Zan's Deli, a kosher restaurant in Lake Grove the family is suing after Lauren, who has a dairy allergy that can kill her, went into shock after biting into a potato dish made with tofu cheese.


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