Phillip Haid’s older son Jacob (11) is allergic to peanuts and tree nuts and his younger son Daniel (9) is allergic to all fish and seafood. “It was natural that I would want to help make changes in how we treat, protect, and manage life-threatening allergies,” says Phillip, on how he got involved. He has been serving on Food Allergy Canada’s all-volunteer Board since 2007.
Q: What drew you to Food Allergy Canada?
Phillip: It is a unique organization, the only national patient-centric organization dedicated to making people’s lives safer when living with food allergies. We bring the patient perspective into the equation and advocate for a reasoned and balanced approach to making changes that will better people’s lives. The combination of our advocacy work, foodservice training, patient education and support makes us unique.
Q: The number of people with potentially life-threatening allergies has been increasing. What role do organizations like Food Allergy Canada have today?
Phillip: Our role is increasing as the number of people living with severe allergies increases. If you want to ensure your school is safe, Food Allergy Canada has done incredible work on this, including the first-ever Provincial legislation [Sabrina’s Law] for schools. If you want to know what’s in the foods you purchase, Food Allergy Canada worked tirelessly to make sure all top allergens are listed clearly, through a change in Canada-wide labelling regulations. If you want to feel safe on a plane, we’ve worked hard to influence the airlines policies. If you want to know what to do when first diagnosed, we created a tool to walk you through your journey. Advocacy, training, patient education and support, research…these are all elements of our role today.
Q: Why did the organization change its name from Anaphylaxis Canada to Food Allergy Canada?
Phillip: We felt with the growing number of food allergies in Canada, it was extremely important that people know we are there for them. Anaphylaxis is not a term most people know or understand… and there are many people who are at risk but may minimize the allergy because they have not had a life-threatening reaction. So we wanted to be inclusive of everyone.
Q: Is there still a place for people with insect, latex or medication allergies in Food Allergy Canada and its online community?
Phillip: There is absolutely a place for people with insect, latex, medication or other allergies in Food Allergy Canada. We had to make a hard choice with the name, but we do continue to have information and support for those people affected and want them to be included.
Q: It is the 10th anniversary of the passage of Sabrina’s Law and Food Allergy Canada was one of the key forces in getting the legislation passed. As the Board reflects on this milestone, what is its vision for advocacy in years to come?
Phillip: It’s a great question and one that we have discussed many times and continue to do so. We are very proud of Sabrina’s Law and recognize the power of legislation to help scale opportunities to keep people safe from life-threatening allergies. The change in food labelling was another long-term advocacy effort. So as we look to the future, we are thinking about other areas that will have the same scale in terms of reach and impact. We are constantly evaluating where is the greatest need, combined with what will give us the greatest reach — to positively impact as many people as possible.
Q: Thanks so much for talking with us, Phillip!
Phillip: Thank you, too.