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Advocacy and research – March 2019

Check out our advocacy in foodservice, learn about the Hamilton stock epinephrine pilot program for restaurants, hear more about the AAAAI conference and the Free From & Allergy Friendly Expo we attended this past month. Participate in a research study that will help to measure quality of life. If you’re a post-secondary student, you can participate in two important research studies before the end of the month.

Plus, read the latest in research including an update on the Viaskin Peanut Patch from DBV Technologies. And take a look at our latest mythbuster on food allergies versus food intolerances.


Advocacy in foodservice: Restaurants Canada panel discussion on allergen management

Beatrice Povolo (front, right) at the Restaurants Canada panel discussion

We hosted a panel discussion on the management of allergens in restaurants and foodservice operations at the Restaurants Canada Show in Toronto last month. This show is the largest foodservice and hospitality event, bringing over 18k members of the foodservice and hospitality industries together to connect and learn. Our panel consisted of:

  • Beatrice Povolo, Director, Advocacy & Media Relations, Food Allergy Canada
  • Roberto Sarjoo, Director, Marketing & Communications, Restaurant’s Canada
  • Mark Satov (moderator), CEO Satov Consulting & Food Allergy Canada Board Member
  • Dunja Sumanac, Senior Manager, Nutrition, Restaurant Brands International Inc
  • Sarah Lawson- Manager, Health & Safety, Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality

These key industry leaders spoke about their allergen policies and practices and how they are trying to accommodate consumers with food allergy in their operations. We also heard the consumer perspective on the challenges faced by this community when dining out and how we can work together on the development of industry guidance and practices that can help create safer experiences for consumers.

This was a great event that helps us further our foodservice advocacy efforts, which includes working with key stakeholder groups to help create change in the foodservice sector, creation of voluntary guidelines on food allergen management, and other resources and tools.


Advocacy: Hamilton-area restaurants wanted to participate in a stock epinephrine program

The City of Hamilton and partners from McMaster University, Food Allergy Canada and community volunteers, are expanding a pilot project that seeks to make epinephrine auto-injectors (EAIs) available to the public in restaurants with a stock epinephrine program. Stock epinephrine is an epinephrine auto-injector (e.g. EpiPen®) that is not prescribed to a specific person and can be used in an emergency.

Participating Hamilton restaurants will be trained to identify the signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and on how to help respond in the event of an emergency.

If your restaurant is interested in participating, learn more and register by March 31, 2019. This program will go forward if at least 10 restaurants commit to participating by March 31, 2019.

For more information, visit the City of Hamilton’s website where you can learn more and connect directly with City staff.


Advocacy and research: Conferences we attended: what we learned

Jennifer Gerdts at the 2019 AAAAI Annual Meeting
  • AAAAI Conference: keeping up-to-date on research 

In February, we attended the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) conference, as a way to meet with allergy experts from around the world and to learn about the latest research around allergy.

We joined thousands of allergist/immunologists and other healthcare professionals for four days of educational sessions on a variety of topics including: allergic disease; immunotherapy; food allergy and gastrointestinal (GI) disease; new technologies; and healthcare reform.

We also took this opportunity to meet with Canadian allergists and other key stakeholders to further discuss our advocacy work across different platforms.

Take a look at some of the research that has come out of the conference. 

  • Highlights from the Free From & Allergy Friendly Expo 

Last weekend we attended Canada’s first Free From & Allergy Friendly Expo in Toronto, it was the largest consumer celebration of ‘free from’ food, drink and lifestyle products across the country.

The event gave us an opportunity to meet with many parents, families, and adults with food allergies, share our resources, and discover the wide variety of ‘free from’ products available. If you couldn’t attend – don’t worry – we have our printed materials available for download online.

At the expo, Beatrice Povolo, our Director of Advocacy & Media Relations, spoke about food labelling and what’s underway. We will have a video of her session available soon, stay tuned! In the meantime, visit our website for information on food labelling.

See below for photos from the event.

Alex Tagliani (centre) with our team – Jane, Beatrice, Michelle and Tammy

Beatrice presenting on food labelling

Joni, Tammy and Annette at our booth


Research: Your voice is needed: Participate in an important research study that will help to measure quality of life

Dr. Philippe Begin M.D. (Norbert von der Groeben/Stanford Hospital and Clinics)

Participate in a new study that aims to understand your health preferences and how food allergy affects your quality of life. This study is a collaborative initiative with CHU Sainte-Justine in Montreal and Food Allergy Canada, and is sponsored by a Canadian Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Foundation research grant. It is led by Dr. Philippe Bégin, allergist at CHU Sainte-Justine.

If you have a food allergy or are a parent of a child with food allergy, you’re invited to participate in this important study. You will be asked to complete an online survey, available in English and French, that should take approximately 40 minutes to complete. This survey is lengthy because it includes detailed questions on your general health preferences, which are needed to establish quality of life indicators for the food allergy population. These measurements have never been calculated before.

Your participation in the study is vital to providing the researchers, and patient organizations like ours, with insightful results on how the quality of your life can be greatly improved.

These results will help to inform our advocacy efforts with government and other key stakeholders to drive positive change, such as:

  • Increase access to drug coverage (e.g., ensuring everyone has access to epinephrine)
  • Improve clinical resources (e.g., increased access to allergists, proper diagnosis, treatments, and more)
  • Secure public investments (e.g., additional government funding for this medical condition)

Participate now

Your participation is crucial to providing the researchers with meaningful results. Please take the time to complete the survey.

Note: the survey will not work on mobile phones.

Take the survey

Contact details

For any questions or comments on this research, please contact the research team at 514-345-4931, extension 4201 or at info.allergie.hsj@ssss.gouv.qc.ca. For any questions regarding your rights as a participant in this research project or if you have any complaints or general comments, please contact the CHU Sainte-Justine ombudsman at 514-345-4749.


Research: Post-secondary students – Last call to participate in two research studies

The following two research studies are underway for post-secondary students with food allergy. Please participate and share the information with others.

1. Research study on the experiences of university students with food allergy: Closing March 31, 2019

How to participate:

  • Eligibility: You have to be a university student with food allergies attending McGill University, McMaster University, Queen’s University or the University of British Columbia
  • Complete a short, online survey. It should take up to 10 minutes to complete.

Survey findings from this study will help researchers, and patient organizations like ours, better understand how students with food allergies are supported on campuses. All data collected will remain anonymous.

If you have any general questions about the study, please contact Ernie Avilla, Research Coordinator, McMaster University, Canada at avillae@mcmaster.ca or call 289-921-8716.

2. Student’s research project: Closing March 31, 2019

This research is being conducted by an undergraduate psychology student at King’s College at Western University for his thesis project. His project is looking at the psychological aspects of managing food allergies and anaphylaxis in post-secondary settings.

How to participate:

The survey consists of a series of questionnaires about your physical health, relationships, life experiences, and self-reflections. It takes about 30 minutes to complete and participants will be entered in a draw for two $50 prepaid gift cards.


Research: DBV Technologies shares update on status of Viaskin Peanut Patch

Example of Viaskin patch. Source: DBV Technologies

DBV Technologies has announced that its planned resubmission of the Biologics License Application (BLA) to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Viaskin Peanut in the treatment of peanut allergic children 4 to 11 years of age is anticipated in the third quarter of 2019.

“We appreciate the detailed feedback the FDA provided in December 2018, which has allowed us to make meaningful headway in addressing the information requests needed for a BLA resubmission,” said Daniel Tasse, Chief Executive Officer of DBV Technologies. “We are working diligently on our Viaskin Peanut BLA, bringing us one step closer to potentially providing an FDA-approved treatment for peanut-allergic children and their families.”

Read the full press release.


Mythbuster: Are food intolerances and food allergies the same?

FACT: Food intolerances are different than food allergies.

Food intolerances involve the digestive system, while food allergies involve the immune system. Learn more about the differences below.

If you suspect you have a food allergy or intolerance, please see your doctor.

About food allergies

If you have a food allergy, your immune system overreacts to an allergen by producing antibodies called Immunoglobulin E (IgE). A food allergy is defined as an IgE-mediated immune response to a protein in a food. Even eating a very small amount of the food can trigger a potentially life-threatening reaction.

People with food allergies are diagnosed by an allergist and prescribed an epinephrine auto-injector in case of a severe allergic reaction. The best way to stay safe is to avoid the food, in any amount, and to always carry an auto-injector.

About food intolerances

A person with a food intolerance has difficulty digesting a type of food. They may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as gas, painful abdominal cramping, or diarrhea as well as potentially serious long-term health consequences.

Examples of food intolerance include celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and lactose intolerance. Celiac disease can be diagnosed by a physician using a blood test and often runs in families. Celiac disease may require an intestinal biopsy to confirm the diagnosis.

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


Check out our blog for other myths about: