Parents File Lawsuit With Panera After Their Daughter Suffers Severe Allergic Reaction


Peanut allergies seem to be more common than ever these days. At the very least, they’re talked about more today. People with these allergies know how important it is to make chefs aware at restaurants to prevent any issues from arising. But what if you warned the staff at a restaurant and still got peanut butter in your food?

That’s exactly what happened to the 6-year-old daughter of John and Elissa Russo. She was hospitalized after Panera put peanut butter on her sandwich, despite alerting them to her allergies beforehand.

On January 28th, Elissa used Panera’s online ordering system to order a grilled cheese sandwich for her daughter.

She noted in 2 places that the grilled cheese was for a child with a peanut allergy.

She and her husband John thought that was enough, but after their little girl bit into the sandwich, they discovered that it had a sizable dollop of peanut butter in it.

Elissa immediately called their doctor, while their daughter asked, “Am I going to die?”


The doctor said their daughter could just take Benadryl since she wasn’t displaying serious symptoms, but then she threw up. Elissa rushed her daughter to Newton-Wellesley Hospital. Just before her little girl was about to be discharged, she broke out in hives all over her body, and had to get a shot of epinephrine.


The hospital had her stay overnight, and she wasn’t discharged until the next morning.

When John called the Panera location the night of the incident, he was told by a manager that the problem was caused by a “language” issue. John felt that this was not a good excuse for what happened, and he and his wife have filed a lawsuit on behalf of their daughter.


Panera does include this note on their website: “Please note that we cannot guarantee that any of our menu items are free of allergens because we use shared equipment and handle common allergens throughout our supply chain and bakery-cafe.”


However, the Russo’s attorney has stated, “This isn’t a cross contamination case. There was a lot of peanut butter on this sandwich.” It will be interesting to see how things play out.