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Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 11 – 19, 2014

food allergy awareness weekFood Allergy Awareness Week is designed to inform and educate families, schools, businesses, restaurants and our community about food allergies, safety and training.

As a mother of a child with severe peanut and tree nut allergy, I know the importance of reading every label and researching & calling a food manufacturer if there is no “may contain” statement. This statement is not mandatory in the US, so if it does not say “may contain” on the label, the food item could still have a danger of cross contamination.

I ask every restaurant about what is in the food and cross contamination dangers in the kitchen for every meal.

I show friends, family and caregivers how to use epinephrine in case of a food allergy reaction and leave it with them every time.

The only prevention is total avoidance of the allergen and there is no room for error when it comes to protecting those that we love.

Many families do not carry epinephrine even though their family members have known food and/or insect allergies.

Many people do not know that they need to carry two epinephrine pens in case of a reaction that lasts longer than the time it takes to get to an ER at the hospital.

Here are some valuable resources from FAACT.

Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team Supports Food Allergy Awareness Week

Life-threatening food allergies affect more than 15 million Americans, including 6 million children

West Chester, OH – The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) encourages citizens across the nation to get involved with Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 11- 17. Simply learning a few “FAACTs” about food allergies and sharing them with family, friends, and caregivers could save a life.

Food allergies affect as many as 15 million Americans, including almost 6 million children. Food allergies can be life threatening – and are on the rise. The prevalence of food allergies appears to be increasing among children under the age of 18. A May 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that “between 1997 and 1999, food allergies affected about 3.4 percent of American children. By 2009 to 2011, that number rose to 5.1 percent – an increase of 50 percent in just over a decade.” That is two students in every classroom across America – and there is no cure for food allergies. The only way to prevent an allergic reaction is to avoid trigger foods.

That’s why it is so important for every member of the community to know what food allergies are and recognize a potentially life-threating reaction called anaphylaxis. The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team is committed to raising awareness about food allergies and anaphylaxis in schools, restaurants, hotels, catering venues, amusement parks, and local communities across the country. To assist educators and advocates during this year’s Food Allergy Awareness Week, FAACT has shipped free resources to families and schools across the country, including:

 Over 65,000 free educational bookmarks

 25,000 FAACT brochures

 FAACT flyers, magnets, and food allergy booklets

In addition, a food allergy Education Resource Center for schools and families is available on the FAACT Web site.

“Our goal for Food Allergy Awareness Week is to encourage all citizens to recognize the value and importance of food allergy management, anaphylaxis prevention, and awareness,” stated Eleanor Garrow-Holding, President and CEO of FAACT. “Families and schools are important partners in this effort. We urge everyone to get involved and work together in their communities to create safer environments for individuals with food allergies.”

This starts with a visit to FAACT’s Web site and free education resource center. Ways to get involved include:

 Downloading free educational materials and sharing them with school staff and family members

 Contacting FAACT to learn more on how to obtain stock epinephrine for your school

 Becoming a better advocate by educating yourself about food allergies and anaphylaxis

 Sharing FAACT’s information in local communities

About The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT)

FAACT’s mission is to educate, advocate, and raise awareness for all individuals and families affected by food allergies and life-threatening anaphylaxis. FAACT is also your voice for food allergy awareness, from keeping children safe at school to dealing with workplace issues or simply taking the family out for a bite to eat. Managing a food allergy on a daily basis involves constant vigilance. FAACT is here to support you in managing your food allergies – today, tomorrow, and into the future. For more information, please visit us at www.FoodAllergyAwareness.org or call (513) 342-1293, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

Resources:

 Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team

 Food allergy statistics from FAACT

 The American Academy of Pediatrics, “Management of Food Allergy in the School Setting”

 The American Academy of Pediatrics, “The Prevalence, Severity, and Distribution of Childhood Food Allergy in the United States”

Media Contact:

Eleanor Garrow-Holding, FAACT’s President and CEO

(815) 276-3015 or Eleanor.Garrow @ FoodAllergyAwareness.org

FAACT is able to consult on news stories and provide medical experts, spokespersons, and subjects while supplying up-to-date information on food allergies and anaphylaxis for your future media needs.

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Food Allergy Awareness Week is May 13 – 19, 2012.

Food Allergy Kids of AtlantaFood Allergy Awareness Week is the week of May 13 – 19, 2012. My daughter was diagnosed at age two with a peanut and egg allergy. She is now five and will be starting kindergarten in the fall.

I am preparing now for keeping her safe at school and that will require meetings with teachers, lunchroom staff, bus drivers and creating a health care plan. I have concerns such as peanuts brought in to the school for Georgia day where they were eaten outside by the playground (the dust is dangerous and can cause anaphylaxis) as well as other concerns such as candygrams given to children and peanut butter used in projects. This is why it is very important to establish a team based approach with your school and to communicate clearly what it is that you want for your child at school and writing it in a plan.

Food Allergy is an immune system response. It occurs when the body mistakes an ingredient in food — usually a protein — as harmful and creates a defense system (antibodies) to fight it. Food allergy symptoms develop when the antibodies are battling the “invading” food.

Symptoms of a food allergy can range from mild to severe, and the amount of food necessary to trigger a reaction varies from person to person and can even be triggered by just a trace amount of an allergy-causing food. Symptoms of a food allergy may include:

Rash or hives
Nausea
Stomach pain
Diarrhea
Itchy skin
Shortness of breath
Chest pain
Swelling of the airways to the lungs
Anaphylaxis (a severe or life-threatening allergic reaction)

Food Allergies are a potentially life-threatening medical condition that afflict as many as 15 million Americans including almost 6 million children.

Children with food allergies: 1 in 13. That’s two per classroom.

Emergency room visits caused by food-allergic reactions each year: 203,000. That’s one every three minutes.

Food allergies are life-altering for everyone involved — not just the kids (I know this from experience!)

Only eight foods account for 90% of the food-allergic reactions in the United States: milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish. And for those who may be unaware, even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction; there are no cures for food allergies.

It is the second anniversary for Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta. Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta was created to support families who manage food allergies, educate those who care for our children, and create a safer environment in the local area for food allergic individuals. I am thankful for this wonderful group of people and their dedication to educating schools and restaurants to help keep our children safe.

If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with a food allergy, or you think they have symptoms of one, go to an allergist and then find a local community support group. My daughter and I have learned so much from the wonderful families and doctors and you really feel like you are not alone as your learn to navigate in this food-centric world.

Resources:

Food Allergy Kids of Atlanta – local nonprofit in Atlanta

Food Allergy Statistics from FAAN, Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network

Food Allergies By The Numbers – FAI

Safe@School flyer – FAAN – Presentation for schools about food allergy management and the seriousness in food allergy reactions (up to 25% of first time reactions in children happen in school.) 

Food Allergy Awareness Week – FAAN

Helpful Information and Documents – FAAN

The Balancing Act (video) – Food Allergy Awareness for Parents

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