Awareness about allergic reactions

The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) has launched a new campaign to increase awareness and knowledge of life-threatening food allergies and improve the labelling allergens on food products.

The campaign follows news of serious allergic reactions in children, such as life-threatening anaphylaxis, have increased seven fold in the past ten years.

It was created with the purpose of educating the public in recognising the triggers and symptoms of food allergy and how to act in the case of a emergency.

Professor Cezmi Akdis, the EAACI president, said: “The first element of this campaign is the launch of the International Minimum Standards for the Allergic Child at School document that establishes minimum requirements for the safety of allergic children at school.

“A third of all life-threatening allergic reactions occur at school where children are exposed to an environment of new foods and are at risk of coming into contact with trigger foods”.

The EAACI said it will try to engage with the EU authorities in order to improve food labelling and simplify access to anaphylaxis emergency treatment.

The group also noticed that even though many food products have the ‘may contain’ warnings – such labels are not really regulated and are put in randomly by food manufacturers on their own initiative.

The disadvantage with this is that different producers use different criteria and allergy thresholds when issuing the ‘may contain’ label which means that current labels symbolise different levels of contamination and therefore, different levels of risk.

In Europe alone, more than 17 million people suffer from food allergies with 3.5 million younger than 25 years. The sharpest rise is in children and young people and the number of hospital admissions for severe allergic reactions in children rose by 7-fold in the last decade.

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