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National Advisory Board Urges Food Allergy Safety Improvements

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Having emergency auto-injector availability in public venues, all schools, and on commercial flights is recommended in a recent report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.

The report is a result of an initiative by the Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) organization. Compiling this report involved the efforts of 15 committee members headed by Dr. Virginia Stallings, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, plus an advisory panel of people living with food allergies. The work was sponsored by agencies such as the FDA, and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Numbers Speak

To gain support for its many recommendations, the report, called Finding A Path To Safety In Food Allergy, strongly suggests the CDC gather updated statistics regarding the number of individuals affected by food allergy. It is sound, specific statistical data about food allergy prevalence - for kids and adults - that will ultimately get the attention of policymakers.

According to Dr. Hugh Sampson from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, having precise, detailed data available is vital since it helps officials prioritize food allergy as a public health concern. It also allows resources to go where they are most needed, and helps assess allergy risk in various populations.

The Recommendations

With meticulous statistics paving the way, committee members are confident their report will generate more awareness and safety measures for those affected by food allergy, including:

  • Improved food allergy training in medical schools, and for first responders, and emergency room personnel.
  • Better food allergy training for servers and managers in the food-services industry.
  • Replacing the current precautionary food labeling statement “may contain” with something more specific, clear, and useful.
  • Periodic reviews of the foods on the allergen priority list. Adding new items, such as sesame seed, may eventually be warranted.
  • An evaluation of the need for auto-injectors dosed for infants (.075 mg epinephrine).
  • Training in organizations such as the American Red Cross, and the National Safety Council that includes food allergy and anaphylaxis information.
  • Introducing all foods, including potentially allergenic ones, to infants at around six months of age, but not earlier than four months of age.

The committee members did not consider experimental desensitization therapies such as oral immunotherapy (OIT), but they support continued research for these treatment methods.

Improving Lives

Though FARE was a primary funder of Finding A Path To Safety In Food Allergy, the organization did not influence the report’s content. However, FARE’s CEO, Dr. James Baker, expressed approval for the included recommendations.

“We applaud the National Academies and the expert committee members for their work on this comprehensive report,” said Baker. “It is our hope that the study will galvanize policymakers, researchers and scientists, drug companies, healthcare providers and the general public to work together to improve the lives of people who face the life-threatening risks and often isolating effects of food allergy.”

Sources: Allergic Living; FARE; National Academies

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