Content contributed by Food Allergy Canada
With 1-in-13 people in Canada living with one or more food allergies, you, or someone you know is likely among them.
However, if you are not personally impacted by food allergies, you may be wondering why you need to be aware of them in the first place? While it’s essential that individuals with food allergies take responsibility for their own safety, there are many things that other community members can do to support their family and friends and help them stay safe. This is called shared responsibility, and it matters.
Before learning the hows of food allergy awareness, here are five of the core whys of this awareness.
- Food allergies affect someone you know. In fact, 1-in-2 Canadians know someone with a serious food allergy. These are not nameless individuals; they are our friends, our family members, our co-workers, our students, and our teachers. As there is no cure for food allergies, total avoidance of the food they are allergic to is the only option for this community; allergies really are not optional. And the more food allergy awareness that exists in society, the safer our environments can be.
- Children have a higher prevalence. The incidence of food allergy is highest among children, representing almost 500,000 Canadian kids. As a result, anyone who spends time with young children should be prepared and allergy-aware.
- Promoting inclusion. While individuals with food allergies have more control over their exposure to their allergens in their homes, other homes and public spaces are quite different. And this is where food allergy awareness can go a long way toward creating a sense of inclusion and welcome in venues such as schools, day cares, restaurants and the homes of relatives and friends.
- You can help save lives. By being allergy-aware, you help make life more manageable for those living with food allergy. And in some circumstances, your knowledge of signs and symptoms and what to do in an emergency will help you respond to an allergic reaction and potentially help save a life.
- Make the world a better place.Many of us long for a more caring, compassionate world. We encourage our children to be good neighbours and to support people around them. Being allergy-aware is one way to translate these ideas into action. Not only is this solid modeling of empathy in action for the next generation, but it’s also a way to demonstrate what our communities should ideally be like: Caring environments where everyone has the opportunity to feel included.
Now that you know the whys, here are some of the hows you can do to promote food allergy awareness:
- Take food allergies seriously! Where public awareness of food allergies is concerned, a range of views and opinions exist – from those who are deeply concerned about friends and family members with allergies, to those who think it’s not a serious health issue. Help to increase awareness of the seriousness of food allergy using tips and facts from foodallergycanada.ca.
- Online learning (this is a must!): Take the free, 30-minute online course, Anaphylaxis in the Community from AllergyAware.ca – where you can learn the basics of anaphylaxis, ways to reduce risks, and the recommended emergency treatment. This interactive course includes videos and quizzes, making it fun and easy to learn.
- Participate in our Allergy-Friendly Food Drive: Collect allergy-friendly food in an effort to raise awareness about food allergy and educate others. Learn more.
- Get educated on the priority allergens: People can be allergic to any food, but some allergies are more common than others. Learn which foods are listed as priority allergens by Health Canada and have specific food labelling requirements.
- Learn how to recognize the signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.
- Ask clear questions: If you are having a party or gathering, ask if anyone has food allergies. If you are hosting someone with a food allergy, ask them in advance about their allergy and what you can do to accommodate. You can talk about the menu, safe food preparation, including ways to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. You can also read a few tips we share with our community when they are going out to someone’s home.
- Donate: Consider donating to Food Allergy Canada, a nationally-registered charity with the mission of improving the lives of Canadians with food allergies through education, advocacy, and support. Your contributions make a significant difference. Learn more!
Visit foodallergycanada.ca for more tips and resources, including downloadable facts/tips sheets you can share with others.
Food Allergy Canada is a nationally registered charity committed to educating, supporting, and advocating for the more than 2.6 million Canadians with food allergy. Sign-up to receive the latest allergy-related alerts and updates.