WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- A 30-year-old British woman suffered a severe allergic reaction to artificial sweeteners after she was served Pepsi Max instead of a regular Coca-cola.
- Mother-of-two Elizabeth Perkins said she ‘instantly felt dizzy and felt the room go dark’ after taking just one sip of the sugar-free Pepsi Max.
- Her medical condition is genetic so her two young sons are also allergic to artificial sweeteners.
A 30-year-old British woman fell into a coma and almost died following an allergic reaction after being served with Pepsi Max instead of a regular Coca-cola.
Elizabeth Perkins from Derbyshire, England, said she was accidentally served the sugar-free Pepsi instead of a naturally sweetened Coke, triggering a life-threatening reaction to the artificial sweeteners in the diet soda.
“I’d asked for a full fat coke, and stressed that it had to be full fat as usual to the bartender,” Perkins said. “But once I took my first sip and straight away, I knew it tasted strange, and I could feel the usual sickness start, like I was going to be sick. I instantly felt dizzy and felt the room go dark as my body tried to fight off the allergic reaction.”
She was rushed to the hospital after passing out. The mother of two slipped into a coma for three days.
“It had taken three days for it to work its way out of my system — it was terrifying,” she said.
Perkins’s rare allergy is genetic, making both her young sons — Matthew, 6, and Jacob, 2 — at risk, too.
“We don’t have the enzymes to break down the sweeteners, so it is like instant poison and we will immediately start vomiting and becoming dizzy if we have it,” she explained. “In extreme cases, we could end up in a coma.”
The boys have already had their share of life-threatening experiences. Two-year-old Jacob was already diagnosed with a benign tumor, while Matthew suffered a water infection months later.
In Matthew’s case, Perkins said she had to drive around for hours to find medication for him because “most places don’t supply the sugared versions as it’s no longer cost-effective for the manufacturers.
“It breaks my heart, especially for the boys,” she said. “They can’t even have birthday cakes like their friends because the icing contains the artificial sugars.”
According to Perkins, the UK’s sugar tax has made it difficult for her to find products that are safe for her family.
In 2016, the sugar tax, also known as the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL), was introduced and has been imposed on producers of sugary soft drinks, such as Coca-Cola and Red Bull.
“It feels like we’re penalized for needing the sugared versions of things when really, it’s a necessity — we need it to survive,” Perkins said.