Food Allergy Week – is your service aware of the dangers of food allergies?
One in ten Australian babies will develop a food allergy before their first birthday, a statistic that means allergy awareness is vitally important in early childhood education and care (ECEC) facilities.
Food Allergy Week, held between 23-29 May, aims to draw attention to the high statistics around babies developing food allergies.
As a nation, Australia has the highest incidence of food allergy in the world, however Victoria is the only state with an anaphylaxis notification scheme. During Food Allergy Week Australia’s leading allergy support organisation, Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), is calling for mandatory food allergy training for all food service staff, including those working in ECEC, to help prevent future anaphylaxis, including fatalities.
The All about Allergens online training course is offered free of charge, online, and takes 90 minutes to complete. While it is aimed at those working in the food service industry more broadly, much of the information will be transferable to an ECEC context, and offers an additional layer of protection for those children attending services while managing allergies.
Fatalities from food-induced anaphylaxis increase by around 10 per cent every year, A&AA CEO Maria Said noted.
“The number of people who presented (to hospital) with life-threatening anaphylaxis in 2020 was still remarkably high in a year when COVID dramatically affected our lives, especially in Victoria,” she continued.
“Food allergies must be taken seriously by everyone, especially when dining out when the risk of an allergic reaction is increased.”
In 2019, a survey conducted with A&AA members found one in four had experienced an allergic reaction due to their allergy not being taken seriously by the person preparing their food.
Since 2017-18, 27,225 people have completed the All About Allergens course, with numbers increasing by around 74 per cent each year. A&AA estimates approximately 3,380 people completed the course in the first quarter of this year, already a third of the total completions in 2020.
The All About Allergens training courses were developed by the National Allergy Strategy, an initiative of the leading medical and patient organisations for allergy in Australia – the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and A&A. The National Allergy Strategy received funding from the Australian Government, Department of Health to develop the All about Allergens courses and they were updated in October 2020.
For more information about Food Allergy Week please see here.