HomeNow is the time for a National Food Allergy Action Plan

Now is the time for a National Food Allergy Action Plan

May 28, 2019

Food Allergy Canada and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology release new green paper on Parliament Hill

TORONTO, ON, May 28, 2019 – Food Allergy Canada and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology unveiled a new green paper supporting its call for a national food allergy action plan today as part of an advocacy day on Parliament Hill and celebration for Food Allergy Awareness Month. National Food Allergy Action Plan: Charting the path forwardprovides a framework for addressing the impact of food allergy, including reducing incidence and risk through prevention and access to diagnosis and treatment, and by supporting Canadians to live safely through self management and community support.

“Canadians living with food allergy are taught from a young age the importance of individual responsibility when managing their medical condition, said Jennifer Gerdts, Executive Director of Food Allergy Canada. “Yet we also recognize we are dependent on a societal apparatus of awareness and empathy, policies and processes to help keep us safe. This is the underlying reason for the action plan.”

Underlying the community’s concern are the key facts about food allergy – its unpredictability, its life-threatening potential, and the absence of a proven cure. it takes only a small amount of an allergen, if ingested, to provoke reaction. Staying safe requires vigilance and awareness.

The challenges faced by the more than 2.6 million Canadians – of which 500,000 are children – can lead to enormous psychological, physical, and social consequences. According to a 2017-member survey almost half of respondents described their anxiety level as 8 out of 10 or higher. One-fifth of children with food allergy also report having experienced bullying.

Some questions about food allergy are not limited to those directly affected; 50% of Canadian households are impacted by food allergy and they need to be equipped to understand this condition so they can support those affected.

The National Food Allergy Action Plan outlines recommendations on:

  • ensuring greater access to epinephrine autoinjectors
  • building broad understanding of food allergy within foodservice and the general public
  • enabling broad-based access to accurate ingredient information and safe food options
  • supporting guidance for early introduction of allergenic foods
  • investing in research to prevent, treat, and cure food allergy
  • incorporating a safe eating strategy

Food allergy can also be a health equity issue. Access to an allergist is critical to an accurate diagnosis and allergy education and support, yet many Canadians lack this access. The problem is particularly acute for Indigenous populations and those in rural, northern, and remote communities. The incidence of food allergy also has a corresponding impact on public health. The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports a 95% increase in emergency room visits per 100,000 people for anaphylaxis between 2006–2007 and 2013–2014.

“Food allergy is a preventative public health issue,” said Dr. Harold Kim, President of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. “With a mix of increased awareness, investments in promising new research and common sense food ingredient policies, we can save lives and improve quality of life for millions of Canadians.”

About Food Allergy Canada

Food Allergy Canada is a national non-profit charity and Canada’s leading patient organization committed to educating, supporting, and advocating for the more than 2.6 million Canadians living with food allergy. We focus on improving the daily quality of life of individuals and families by providing education and support needed to effectively navigate food allergies, building informed and supportive communities, and acting as the national voice on key advocacy issues. Visit foodallergycanada.ca to learn more.

For more information please contact:

Christopher Holcroft – Empower Consulting for Food Allergy Canada

416-996-0767 / christopherholcroft@hotmail.ca