Food Allergy Canada is very concerned about reports that peanut butter has been smeared on playground equipment in multiple Toronto playgrounds. Events like this are troubling and can cause concerns for families with young children with food allergies. Having a common allergen, like peanut butter, smeared on playground equipment is not something parents would expect to encounter in their local community. Given that even a small amount of peanut butter, if ingested, could cause a serious allergic reaction and be potentially life-threatening, it is an upsetting situation for everyone.
Food allergies are a health concern for over 2.5 million Canadians. Peanut allergy affects approximately 2.4 per cent of children (under 18), representing about 167,000 kids. If children with a peanut allergy come in contact with peanut butter they could experience a skin reaction from touching it or suffer a more serious reaction if they then put their hands in their mouth. Given the young age of many children at playgrounds, this is a very real and serious risk for them.
Food Allergy Canada advises parents to take daily precautions to help keep their children safe – such as reading food labels, regular hand washing, always carrying emergency medication (e.g. EpiPen®) – but ongoing support and awareness from the broader community is also needed. The safe management of food allergies, particularly among children, is a shared responsibility. Any attempt to discourage children with a peanut allergy from enjoying a day at the park is unacceptable. Members of the community who may encounter such an incident are asked to report it to 311 Toronto (non-emergency city services). Dial 3-1-1 (within Toronto city limits) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Fortunately, these incidents are very rare.
We encourage parents of children with food allergies to remain careful, not fearful, and we thank all the families who have drawn attention to this issue and been supportive. For more information and resources on safely managing allergies please visit foodallergycanada.ca.
Toronto’s wonderful parks and playgrounds are for the safe enjoyment for everyone, let’s work together to keep it that way.
About Food Allergy Canada (formerly Anaphylaxis Canada)
Food Allergy Canada is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping Canadians with food allergies and those who care for them. The organization is committed to creating a safer world for people with potentially life-threatening allergies through education, advocacy, and research. The organization’s approach to reducing the risk of allergic reactions in both children and adults is focused on self-management, community engagement, understanding, and respect. For more information, please visit foodallergycanada.ca.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Empower Consulting, for Food Allergy Canada