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Advocacy and research – May 2018

Learn about our recent advocacy initiatives: From ensuring you received greater clarity regarding WestJet’s allergen policy changes, to speaking out about food allergy bullying, and making sure our voice was heard at a youth summit and a food safety summit.

Plus, read Chatelaine’s article on the latest developments in food allergy research with their article titled, “How close are we to a cure for food allergies?”. Be sure to also check out our mythbuster around the skin prick test and if it’s an indicator of how allergic you may be.


Advocating for clarity: WestJet’s allergen policy changes

Image courtest of WestJet

Last month, WestJet changed their allergy policy to start offering tree nuts (almonds) on board. Many of you had questions about this change.

We spoke to WestJet on your behalf to better understand what changed, and why it has changed. Since speaking with them, they have updated their post to provide further clarification.

Read more about the policy changes.


Advocating against food allergy bullying: Listen to podcast

Lisa Buckley and River Cheng [Image courtesy of CBC Radio]
Listen to Dr. Brian Goldman from White Coat, Black Art on CBC Radio discuss the impact of food allergy bullying with our Executive Director Jennifer Gerdts, Dr. Edmond Chan of BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, one of our youth mentors Arianne Kirkey, and Lisa Buckley and her daughter River, who has food allergies.

In this segment, Jennifer discusses our advocacy efforts with Sony regarding the Peter Rabbit movie.

Be sure to take a listen to this powerful podcast on food allergy bullying.


Advocating for youth: 2018 Sandbox Summit

The 2018 Sandbox Summit was held on April 12th in Toronto as a way to create a venue for experts to work together on strategies to improve health outcomes for youth across Canada.

At this year’s Summit, participants heard from organizations working in various child/youth health and well-being sectors in Canada. Our Director of Advocacy & Media Relations, Beatrice Povolo, was there to represent youth with food allergies.

Beatrice spoke about our recently released post-secondary guide – Managing Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis: A Guide for Post-Secondary Institutions – as the 150,000 post-secondary students in Canada with allergies are at a higher risk of having severe allergic reactions, and the importance of being vigilant is at all all-time high. Learn more about our newly launched guide.


Advocating for food safety: North Amercian Summit on Food Safety

We were at the 14th Annual North American Summit on Food Safety in Toronto last month. Beatrice Povolo, our Director, Advocacy & Media Relations, spoke at the summit alongside Susan Abel, Vice President Safety and Compliance, Food & Consumer Products of Canada, about “Ensuring your Allergen Management Methods and Practices are Reliable and Up to Date.”

Beatrice and Susan provided their perspective on key elements affecting consumers with food allergies and food manufacturers, including the importance of developing an improved allergen management system to reduce risks of a recall. They also spoke about:

  • Ensuring surveillance methods are thorough from farm to fork.
  • Reducing the unintended exposure of consumers to allergens in products.
  • Avoiding reliance on advisory labels as a risk management strategy.
  • The need to update allergen management food safety practices.
  • Understanding the consumer perspective on food allergen labelling and thresholds.

Speaking at this summit helps to ensure food allergies stay top-of-mind with the food manufacturing industry, it’s an example of our advocacy in action!


Chatelaine article: How close are we to a cure for food allergies?

Chatelaine recently published an article on the latest developments in food allergy research. Featuring interviews with leading allergists and researchers from across the country, the article reviews current and emerging food allergy treatments, such as oral immunotherapy (OIT), allergy patches and oral capsules, and more.

Read the full article.


Mythbuster series: check out this month’s edition

This month we explore the skin prick test and if it’s an indicator of how allergic you may be.

Mythbuster: Is it true that the higher the result of the skin prick test, the more allergic you are?

People often assume that a large skin reaction in response to a skin prick test (also called a scratch test) or a high numerical value of the RAST (radioallergosorbent) blood test means that an individual is more allergic to the substance than if the reaction and score are smaller.

This is not necessarily true. While the skin prick test checks for immediate allergic reactions, and the blood test looks for specific IgE to a given food or other substance to diagnose allergy, the results alone don’t necessarily correlate with the severity of a reaction to a given allergen. For example, the result of a small red bump (or wheal) to a skin prick test for peanut doesn’t necessarily imply that an allergic reaction will be mild.

Moreover, skin and blood tests carry some degree of risk of false positives or negatives. Your allergist will work with you to confirm or rule out an allergy, based on test results and a clinical history of the symptoms. Ask your allergist what your test results mean, and what foods you should avoid.

Help us educate your communities and share this mythbuster with them! Stay tuned for more mythbusters to come.

Medical content reviewed by: Dr. Julia Upton, MD, FRCP(C) Clinical Immunology and Allergy

Check out our blog for other myths and facts about: