Latest news from Food Allergy Canada – March 2017

This month, you can register for our March 9th webinar on the new guidelines for introducing peanut to babies, check out the Pryde Family Travel Grant to see if you or someone you know is eligible to apply, and read our food allergy tips for Spring Break.

You’re invited! Upcoming webinar on the new guidelines for introducing peanut to babies

Join us on March 9th for a webinar on the new guidelines. Here are the details:

  • What is the webinar about: The focus will be on the new guidelines and what they mean, followed by a Q&A where participants can ask questions.
  • Who is presenting: Canadian allergist Dr. Julia Upton who is on staff at Toronto’s SickKids Hospital in the Immunology and Allergy Department. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto and is the Section Chair of Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis with the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI).
  • When is the webinar: Thursday March 9, 2017 from 1pm-2pm EST
  • Who should attend: Anyone interested in this topic, or if you have young babies, are expecting a baby, or thinking of having children soon, this webinar is a must for you.

Register today, and please share with others who may benefit from the session: https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/7559540844910157059


Pryde Family Travel Grant now open for graduate students, medical students and health care professionals

We are accepting applications for the 2017 Pryde Family Travel Grant, which is made possible thanks to the Sean Delaney Memorial Golf Classic. The grant is eligible to students who are enrolled in medical or graduate programs in Canada, and allied health professionals. Two grants, valued at $500 each, will  help offset the costs of attending an academic program or event related to food allergies, such as a conference, workshop, semester abroad, or a clinical placement program.

The deadline for the application is April 10, 2017. Learn more and apply today!


Marching forward: food allergy tips you can use during for when school is out

It’s that time of year for families again — Spring break! Depending on your plans, this is a time that can fill a parent of a child or teen who has food allergies with emotions ranging from sheer excitement to some anxiety. But whether you’ve planned a family vacation or have opted for a Spring break camp for kids, you can make the break successful and enjoyable by planning ahead.

Here are five tips designed to help guide you as you plan your family’s Spring break:

Spring break programs

If you’re investigating week-long programs such as Spring break camps, test the waters first by having a quick chat with the program or camp director, and asking specific questions about their policies for handling food allergies onsite and on field trips. Your questions should focus not only on emergency response procedures that may (or may not) be in place, but on allergy risk-reduction procedures.

For example, you might want to consider the following questions:

  1. Does the camp have an allergy policy? If so, ask for a copy, as it should address all or most of the remaining questions.
  2. Do they place an allergy emergency plan with the child’s photo in a location visible to staff members? Download the Anaphylaxis Emergency Plan now
  3. What is their lunch and snack time procedure if a camper has a food allergy? Where do the campers sit? Is there a no-food-sharing policy? Are there handwashing routines in place before and after eating?
  4. Are all staff members trained in recognizing the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction, and in emergency first response?
  5. Are campers allowed to carry their epinephrine auto-injector, i.e. EpiPen®? Where are epinephrine injectors stored? Will anaphylaxis emergency response kits always be brought along on field trips?

As always, let both the answers to the questions and your instinct be your guides as you decide on a Spring break program you feel you can trust. We often suggest that parents speak with other parents whose kids with food allergies have attended a camp. Many camp directors will also make connections.

Travel Tips

From reservation to check-out, planning a family vacation when one or more family members has a food allergy can feel stressful. But there are steps you can take to both help reduce the risk of an allergic reaction, and feel comfortable with your upcoming trip.

Planes and trains

Prior to booking a flight or train trip, be sure to speak directly to a representative at the airline or train operator to confirm the allergy policy, to ask about pre-boarding to wipe down seats, walls, windows, and trays is permitted, and to ensure that a notation about the allergy is made in your file. If you’re working with a travel agent, be sure that they take care of this detail for you. If you’re flying, you might want to take a look at a recent listing of airline food allergy policies on Allergic Living – please note, it was last updated in March 2016, so there may have been some changes since then, also there have been recent issues with U.S. carriers, so be sure to speak directly to the airline to confirm their allergy policies.

Well in advance of your departure date, ensure that you have at least two epinephrine auto-injectors per family member with allergies ready to pack in your carry-on bag. Be sure to bring safe meals or snacks for the journey that are ready to eat, including before boarding and during a layover. when safe foods may not available. When you arrive at the gate, be sure to let the staff know about the allergy or allergies and ask to pre-board to wipe down the surfaces indicated above can help prevent contact reactions, particularly in children.

Travelling outside of the country

If you’re travelling outside the country, be sure to check out the travel tips from the International Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Alliance. There are more than 20 international food allergy organizations as a part of this alliance, including Food Allergy Canada. You’ll find important tips when travelling with food allergies, including current regulations, medication availability and policies, emergency services, food labelling, meal planning and dining out.

Some additional points to consider are:

  • Purchasing travel health insurance for added peace of mind.
  • Prior to travel, it is useful to learn where the closest hospitals are located and what emergency medical services (like 9-1-1) are available.
  • If you’re travelling to a country where English is not frequently spoken, it is a good idea to learn the basic sentences to indicate that someone is having an allergic emergency. Below, we have a link to an allergy translation card service you may want to check out!

If you’re staying at a hotel and resort, there are a few other considerations to keep in mind:

  • When booking, call the hotel or resort to ask about their policies for food allergy. Some hotels and resorts are better able to accommodate food allergies than others.
  • Also, inquire about a room with a kitchenette or a mini-fridge and microwave, so you can stock it with safe foods from a local supermarket on arrival. This, plus any staples brought from home, can help tide you or your family members over if needed during your trip.
  • Avoid using toasters which might have been used for breads with allergens such as peanuts / tree nuts.

When dining out in a different country, follow the same steps you would when you dine out locally.

  • Research restaurants in advance and call them to ask questions about their allergy readiness and policies in advance of your trip.
  • Learn a few key sentences in the language of the country you’re visiting. Carrying pre-printed cards in the foreign language indicating the allergy and its severity is another way of getting the message across. It’s essential that you know how to communicate with others about your food allergies. You can purchase allergy cards for a small fee and download them in multiple language at allergytranslation.com.

For additional travel tips and resources, visit the Travelling section on our website.

With planning, your Spring break can go smoothly and may even become an annual event your whole family looks forward to. As Chelsea C. of the Montreal Anaphylaxis Support Group expresses it: “See the world and travel. Don’t let food allergies hold you back from experiencing life and what the world has to offer. Teach awareness and always have an action plan.”

Wishing you a fun and safe Spring break!