• Zoe T. Williams

Attitudes to Food Allergy

Food allergies are increasingly common.  Around 2 million people in the UK live with a diagnosed food allergy, and the majority of these are children.  Food allergies cannot be cured, and the only way to manage them is to strictly avoid the food.  Medication such as epinephrine injections or antihistamines can be given if a reaction does happen, but these don’t always work, and don’t work for all types of food allergy.  Reactions can range from mild to life-threatening. But people’s attitudes to food allergy can vary.  Some people are considerate and understanding, and willing to make adaptations.  Others seem to think it is not their problem, and they shouldn’t have to deal with it.

Negative Attitudes

Food allergies have received a lot of coverage in the press lately, such as the high-profile case of Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, who tragically lost her life after eating a baguette from Pret-a-Manger.  9-year-old Sadie Bristow died of an anaphylactic reaction whilst on a family day out.  Love Island star Jack Fowler has spoken about his severe allergy to nuts.  I’ve also had a brush with the local press myself as I tried to raise awareness of the Teal Pumpkin Project for Hallowe’en.  I risked reading the comments on some of these articles and I was shocked how negative some people’s attitudes towards food allergy can be.

Comments such as:

- people with food allergies shouldn’t fly on planes

- children with food allergies shouldn’t go trick or treating

- if a child has food allergies, it’s the parent’s responsibility

- people with food allergies shouldn’t eat out

- the onus is on people with food allergies to check for the presence of allergens

- why would you risk eating out if you have food allergies?

Let’s Flip It

Imagine if we now changed this from people with food allergies to… people in wheelchairs.  Does it still seem acceptable?

- people in wheelchairs shouldn’t fly on planes

- children in wheelchairs shouldn’t go trick or treating

- if a child is in a wheelchair, it’s the parent’s responsibility

- people in wheelchairs shouldn’t eat out

- the onus is on people with wheelchairs to sort out their own needs

- why would you bother going out if you’re in a wheelchair?


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