TORONTO, ON, May 1, 2019– Food Allergy Canada is celebrating Food Allergy Awareness Month by leading a number of advocacy and educational initiatives to better support the more than 2.6 million Canadians who live with the reality of a potentially life-threatening medical condition. From supporting a new online tool that guides users through the likelihood of having a food allergy with just a few clicks , to awareness events with celebrity ambassadors race car driver Alex Tagliani and CFL star Thomas Miles, to the launch of a major new initiative which charts a path forward for a national plan of action for food allergy at the end of this month, this is an important time for Canadians with food allergy.
Food Allergy Canada is also pleased to see today’s announcement from the federal government regarding the new amendments to the Food and Drug Regulations for the labelling of beer products. Brewers will now have to declare any priority food allergens, gluten sources or sulphites in their products, something we have been strongly advocating for many years. We thank Minister of Health, The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor for her leadership on this change. As we have long noted, all Canadians have a right to know what is in the food and beverages they consume.
Among the highlights of the month is a new national ad campaign featuring Hall of Fame NFL football player Jerome Bettis. “Give and Go”, will focus on the importance of giving epinephrine and calling 911 when having anaphylaxis, the most severe form of an allergic reaction. Epinephrine is the only medicine that can reverse symptoms of anaphylaxis and is considered life-saving medication. Canadian allergists advise that an epinephrine auto-injector (such as EpiPen®, and AUVI-Q®) is the first line of treatment for anaphylaxis and should be used before another medication, including antihistamines and asthma inhalers. Yet research has informed us that epinephrine is underused in treating allergic reactions due to a variety of reasons, including lack of clarity around the signs and symptoms of a reaction, and not having an epinephrine auto-injector on hand. Our goal with this campaign is to ensure everyone knows the importance of using epinephrine when having a serious allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. We thank the following organizations for their generous support of this campaign: End Allergies Together (E.A.T.), BBDO New York, MediaCity, Captivate Network, Adapt Media, and UB Media.
“Food Allergy is not a choice for the 2.6 million Canadians living with this medical condition,” explained Jennifer Gerdts, Food Allergy Canada’s Executive Director and the mother of twin teen boys with food allergy. “Reading ingredient labels, disclosing allergies, and always carrying epinephrine are some of routines those with food allergy repeat every day. Still, mistakes happen and there are unguarded moments, and that is why the support of the wider community is so important – from public awareness to government policy. Food Allergy Canada is working to make progress on both counts through education and advocacy.”
Food allergy is a public health concern. Given that even a small amount of an allergen, if ingested, could cause a serious allergic reaction and be potentially life-threatening, avoidance is the only means of staying safe. Public education, particularly for young people who are learning to manage their food allergies on their own, is key.
Among other activities planned for Food Allergy Awareness Month are:
- May 1 – Launch of new Allergy Check digital tool to help patients and parents understand whether specific symptoms may be caused by a food allergy and whether further advice from an allergist is recommended. Investigators at the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Digital Lab at BC Children’s Hospital collaborated to create Allergy Check, with support from Food Allergy Canada and the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (CSACI).
- May 1– Food Allergy Canada Ambassador Alex Tagliani will be visiting Kimberley/Beaches Alternative School in Toronto to help kick-off Food Allergy Awareness Month and promote allergy awareness.
- May 1 –Food Allergy Canada Ambassador and Winnipeg Blue Bomber star Thomas Miles will join local Pediatric Allergist Dr. T Gerstner for an information session designed to help teens and families live well with food allergy in Winnipeg at The Children’s Allergy & Asthma Education Centre at 7pm local time.
- May 28– launch of our National Action Plan for Food Allergy; and Parliament Hill Advocacy Day
- May 30 – Webinar on the psychosocial impacts of food allergy with Dr. Joanne Gillespie, to discuss how to manage the social and emotional impacts of food allergy.
- Ongoing –Throughout the month of May, famous Canadian landmarks will be lighting up teal, the official colour of food allergy, and Food Allergy Canada will be hosting a regular webinar for parents of children recently diagnosed with food allergy to learn how to confidently manage this medical condition on a daily basis. There are also many ways throughout the month that Canadians can participate in driving awareness and sparking a conversation – from painting one fingernail teal, to hosting an allergy-friendly food drive, or buying a glow-in-the-dark teal bracelet to show their support.
More information about Food Allergy Awareness Month can be found at: foodallergycanada.ca/FAAM
About Food Allergy Canada
Food Allergy Canada is a national non-profit charity and Canada’s leading patient organization committed to educating, supporting, and advocating for the more than 2.6 million Canadians living with food allergy. We focus on improving the daily quality of life of individuals and families by providing education and support needed to effectively navigate food allergies, building informed and supportive communities, and acting as the national voice on key advocacy issues. Visit foodallergycanada.ca to learn more.
For more information please contact:
Christopher Holcroft – Empower Consulting for Food Allergy Canada 416-996-0767 / firstname.lastname@example.org