While it’s essential that individuals with food allergies take responsibility for their own safety, there are many things that other community members can do to enhance that safety by meeting these efforts halfway. This is called shared responsibility, and it matters.
Yet, before learning the hows of food allergy awareness, here are five of the core whys of this awareness.
- Food allergies affect someone you know. With 1-in-13 people in Canada living with one or more food allergies, you or someone you know is likely among them. In fact, 1-in-2 Canadians know someone with a serious food allergy. These are not nameless faceless individuals; they are our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our students, and teachers. And the more food allergy awareness that exists in society, the safer they will be.
- Children have a higher prevalence. The incidence of food allergy is highest among children under 3 years of age, with around 6-8% being affected by food allergy.* As a result, anyone who spends time with young children should be prepared and allergy-aware.
- Promoting inclusion. While individuals with food allergies have more control over their exposure to their allergens in their homes, other homes and public spaces are quite different. And this is where food allergy awareness can go a long way toward creating a sense of inclusion and welcome in venues such as schools, day cares, restaurants and the homes of relatives and friends.
- You can help save lives. By being allergy-aware, you help make life more manageable for those living with food allergy. And in some circumstances, the time you’ve taken to learn more and be ready to respond to an anaphylactic reaction can even save lives.
- Make the world a better place. Many of us long for a more caring, compassionate world. We encourage our children to be good neighbours and to take care of the people around them. Being allergy-aware is one way to translate these ideas into action. Not only is this solid modeling of empathy in action for the next generation, but it’s also a way to demonstrate what our communities should ideally be like: Caring environments where everyone has the opportunity to feel included. Wishing you all an enlightening Food Allergy Awareness month!
*A population-based study on peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, and sesame allergy prevalence in Canada. Moshe Ben-Shoshan, MD, et al, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, February 2010.
Check out our listing of events marking Food Allergy Awareness Month!