Food Allergies Are Not a Punchline
As one of the more than 15 million Americans living with food allergies, I am writing with some concerns about a food allergy segment included in the “Peter Rabbit” movie. The segment makes light of the seriousness of food allergies and suggests that food allergies are “made up for attention.” The segment featured the intentional attack of the McGregor character with the food he is allergic to – the implication being that the rabbits wanted to kill or harm McGregor with this method. The result is that McGregor experienced a severe allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, and treated himself with his epinephrine injection. Living with food allergy can have negative effects on the quality of life of patients and their families because they need to remain vigilant about accidental exposures. During an allergic reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment. The very real fear and anxiety that people experience during an allergic reaction (often referred to as an impending sense of doom) is a serious matter. Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger. It is extremely important that people with a food allergy avoid the food to which they are allergic, as contact with their allergen can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. People with a severe food allergy face challenges every day. Recently, there have been distressing accounts of children using food to bully and assault children with food allergies, and some cases have resulted in death for the child with food allergies and criminal charges for the attackers. In addition to refraining from this kind of story line in the future, I encourage you to look to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) to educate your company and the cast of the movie about the realities of food allergy so that they and your viewing audience can better understand and recognize the gravity of the disease. AAFA (www.aafa.org and www.kidswithfoodallergies.org), a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953, is the leading patient organization for people with asthma and allergies, and the oldest asthma and allergy patient group in the world. Working together with AAFA, you can promote positive attitudes and safe environments for those with disabilities such as food allergies.
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