HomeFood allergies are not a punchline

Food allergies are not a punchline

June 20, 2016

Members of the community may be aware of comments made by comedian Ricky Gervais on the Jimmy Fallon Show on NBC last Friday night. Food Allergy Canada denounces those comments as inaccurate and insensitive.

In a brief segment discussing air travel, Mr. Gervais made several “jokes” about people with nut allergies interfering with his desire to enjoy a snack of nuts. In his effort to be funny, he was hurtful to the many families who live with a potentially life-threatening food allergy on a daily basis, including parents of young children. For these families, air travel can be especially worrisome, with emergency care being thousands of miles away. It is this concern – a result of a very real health risk – that the Canadian Transportation Agency, several Canadian airlines, and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have all recognized is worthy of specific accommodations. You can learn more about food allergies and how to travel safely with a serious allergy on our website.

While one comedian’s unfunny jokes will not induce an anaphylactic reaction, they do feed into a narrative that teasing, making fun of, or shaming people with food allergies is ok. This is a narrative that our community has made great progress in changing, but clearly there is still more work to do.

Bullying should never be welcome in our society, and the easiest way to react to an unfunny joke, is not to laugh.

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