11 year old Cameron Jean-Pierre went to his grandmother’s house for a visit earlier this year. Cod was simmering on the stove. Cameron had a seafood allergy and began to wheeze. The family tried his asthma medication, but it wasn’t helping. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. The young boy’s father said his son died after inhaling the fish fumes.
A simple, brief visit with family turned tragic because of food allergies.
Allergic reactions can vary from mild to life threatening. Just because a person has a history of mild reactions doesn’t mean they will never have a severe or life threatening reaction. Awareness and understanding are necessary to prevention.
Food allergies affect an estimated 32 million Americans and 5.6 million of them are children under 18 years old. There is no cure for food allergies. The best way to prevent allergic reactions is through awareness and proper labeling.
To help Americans avoid the health risks posed by food allergens, the FDA created the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (the Act). The Act applies to the labeling of foods regulated by FDA which includes all foods except poultry, most meats, certain egg products, and most alcoholic beverages which are regulated by other Federal agencies. The Act dictates that food labels must clearly identify any ingredients that fall into the major food allergen categories. As a result, food labels help allergic consumers identify offending foods or ingredients so they can more easily avoid them.
In order to help prevent allergic reactions we have to create a atmosphere of understanding. If every classroom has roughly 2 students with food allergies we have to start with education in those classrooms. Anaphylactic reactions are preventable. Let’s start helping with that prevention!