1. It is a growing concern for Canadians. 1.3 million Canadians live with food allergy. Health Canada reports “Food allergies are sensitivities caused by a reaction of the body’s immune system to specific proteins in a food. Current estimates are that food allergies affect as many as 6% of young children and 3% to 4% of adults.” This means hundreds of thousands of Canadian families cope with food allergies every minute of every day. Without treatment, anaphylaxis, the most severe form of an allergic reaction, can cause death. Recent North American research, reported in Allergic Living magazine Spring 2010, shows that peanut allergy grew by 250 per cent over 11 years.
2. It is a tremendous cost to the country’s health system. Health Canada, as reported in Maclean’s magazine, (2005) estimates allergic diseases cost the Canadian economy $15 billion every year, in everything from emergency room visits to prescribed medications. As the number of people affected increases, so do the associated costs, such as emergency room visits and lost time from work.
3. It is deadly serious. Anaphylaxis is seldom outgrown – only 20% of the time. Of the 1.56 million Canadians that have experienced anaphylactic reactions, 1.3 million remain deadly allergic to specific foods. For them, it is a life-long, chronic, invisible medical condition. It often co-exists with asthma, resulting in more severe consequences. Anaphylaxis has no cure, and no preventative treatment. Reactions, always accidental and unexpected, are treated after exposure – never before. Antihistamines might mask symptoms; they do not prevent severe reactions. Staying safe requires 100% avoidance of a person’s allergen, 100% of the time.