I genuinely feel bad for a young woman who suffers from celiac disease whose consumption of a croissant on a 15-hour Emirates flight led to immense discomfort. I think the important takeaway, though, is that those with severe food allergies or diseases impacting food consumption must pack their own food to protect themselves.
Food Allergy? Pack Your Own Food, Even On Emirates
Kyle wrote about the incident itself yesterday and so I will not retell the whole story, but in short a woman who calls herself Chloë Chapdelaine boarded a 15-hour Emirates flights from Dubai (DXB) to Los Angeles (LAX) and was served breakfast after takeoff. She has celiac disease, which produces an immune reaction to eating gluten creating inflammation that damages the small intestine’s lining (and in so doing, leads to intense pain).
Her breakfast had gluten free stickers all over it, but the packaged croissant did not. She ate it, amazed that it tasted so good…then she realized it was not gluten-free after all and began feel the effects. Much of the remainder of the flight was spent in the lavatory:
I am of the opinion that those with a severe nut allergy or those, like here, who have celiac disease face a very difficult situation. You never know what to believe on TikTok, but for purposes of our discussion here I will take her at her word because we do not such food allergies do exist.
Sadly, my takeaway is that even an airline known for its attention to detail cannot be trusted. Yes, it should be enough to order a gluten-free meal and expect that it will be catered and that all of its components will be gluten-free.
But the reaction to eating gluten seems so severe that I cannot imagine just trusting the carrier, especially after incidents like this. I realize this really represents an adverse impact to quality of life when you cannot even go to a restaurant or airplane and eat anything, but I would think that would beat hours in the restroom dealing with the after effects of a few accidental bites of gluten (or nuts).
Practically, that means a lot more planning before a flight: packaged snacks or finding a grocery store or specialty store. But that seems like a small price to pay to guard your health.
I have my own sun allergy that is rather handicapping, but I am thankful that I do not have to fear what kind of food I put in my mouth. Without blaming Chapdelaine for not more closely inspecting the croissant before consuming it or excusing carriers for mixing gluten sides on a gluten-free meal tray, I do think her sad story is an important reminder those with food constraints must not rely on others for food: it is apparently too dangerous and not worth the risk.
image: @chloe.chapdelaine / TikTok