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Unveiling first Canadian guide for post-secondary institutions

Food Allergy Canada unveils first Canadian guide for post-secondary institutions to support 150,000 students living with food allergy

Initiative is a response to the death of university student Andrea Mariano in 2015

TORONTO, ON, May 2, 2018 – Food Allergy Canada unveiled a new resource for post-secondary institutions at McMaster University today to support the more than 150,000 students with food allergy and at risk for anaphylaxis in Canada. Managing Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis: A Guide for Post-Secondary Institutions, is a result of two years of extensive consultation with 75 stakeholders from universities and colleges, post-secondary organizations, food service providers, allergy organizations, allergists and other healthcare professionals, and students and families from across the country. The launch of the initiative coincides with the beginning of Food Allergy Awareness Month.

“Youth with food allergies are a high-risk audience for serious allergic reactions,” explained Jennifer Gerdts, Executive Director of Food Allergy Canada and herself the mother of twin teen boys with multiple food allergies. “Moving from high school to post-secondary is a significant transition, especially if it is your first experience at independent living. The post-secondary guide is intended to inform and encourage post-secondary institutions in developing a seamless food allergy policy that supports students from admission to graduation. The guide will be a first step in a comprehensive strategy to enable teens and young adults to better manage their allergies with the support of their communities.”

Food allergies are a growing public health issue and can be a particular challenge for teens transitioning to adulthood and learning to manage their allergies on their own. While individuals must manage their allergies and take preventative measures to stay safe, the support of the wider community is needed to help provide reasonable measures to reduce the risk of a serious reaction. As currently there is no cure for food allergy, avoidance is key to preventing a serious reaction.

“It only takes a small amount of an allergen to cause a potentially life-threatening anaphylactic reaction,” said Dr. David Fischer, President, Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. “The sharing of accurate medical information therefore allows Canadians with food allergies to make informed choices and stay safe, and for members of the wider community to better understand the seriousness of the condition and how to be supportive.”

The publication of the guide is the kick-off to a campaign to encourage every post-secondary institution in the country to develop or update their food allergy policy and allergen management practices based on the new guide. Already, 14 universities and four colleges are engaged, having participated in the process of developing or reviewing the guide. Among the key recommendations in the guide are: allergen protocols at foodservice outlets, campus awareness and education, housing and dining procedures, and considerations for stock epinephrine auto-injectors.

“I am proud of the work that McMaster, along with other institutions, has put into the guide,” said Chris Roberts, Director, Hospitality Services at McMaster University, a participating institution in the development of the guide, and President-elect of the Canadian College and University Food Service Association. “I believe the guide offers tangible recommendations that will increase the support of Canadian post-secondary students with food allergies.”

The inspiration for a post-secondary guide arose out of a tragedy: Andrea Mariano, an Ontario university student suffered a fatal anaphylactic reaction on her school campus in 2015.

“My family welcomes this initiative and the opportunity to honour Andrea’s memory,” said Kristina Mariano, sister of Andrea Mariano. “Any measures that can reduce an unnecessary allergic reaction should be considered”.

To download the guide and view related items, such as a food allergy management quiz, an informational video, and other resources and tools for institutions and students, please visit foodallergycanada.ca/campusguide. Please also follow #SupportingU for additional information.

About Food Allergy 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.

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For more information please contact:

Christopher Holcroft
Empower Consulting, for Food Allergy Canada
416-996-0767/ 514-844-0664
christopherholcroft@hotmail.ca