Teaching kids about food allergies in school would save lives

When a school offers a ‘packed lunch’ option, they cannot monitor every child’s lunchbox or snacks. There will always be people who will ignore the guidelines in place – intentionally or not.

If schools and educational facilities were to add food allergies to their curriculum, lives could be saved.

We should be giving young people a more in-depth insight into how dangerous a food allergy can be, and teaching them what to do should a classmate suffer an allergic reaction, when and how to administer an EpiPen and the importance of calling an ambulance.

And it’s not just the medical side that needs to be improved – perceptions and attitudes also need to be changed.

A recent study undertaken by the Food Standards Agency (in partnership with Allergy UK and the Anaphylaxis campaign) found that one in 10 young people won’t tell friends about their food allergy due to embarrassment.

A large number of young people with food allergies are targeted as a result. US figures show that more than one third of children and teens with food allergies reported being bullied specifically because of their food allergies – usually by classmates.

Other children throw food that contains allergens at them or try to get them to eat it. Yes, this really does happen.

I’m a member of multiple food allergy support groups, and hearing reports like this from other allergy sufferers and parents of kids with allergies is extremely common. It’s terrifying.

And it’s not only young children this happens to – just last month two teenage girls were suspended from school for allegedly putting crushed nuts on a teacher’s desk who has a nut allergy.

The amount of ignorance around allergies both angers and terrifies me in equal measure.

Without proper education, those with allergies will continue to be mocked and ostracised, and this could have truly deadly consequences.

MORE: If food allergy labelling is to be useful for sufferers like me, companies need to take it seriously

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