We’re being encouraged to be allergy aware this week with Anaphylaxis Australia educating the community about food allergies.
Maria Said, President of Anaphylaxis Australia, says it’s important for the community to be educated and aware, with food allergies affecting unsuspecting people daily.
“There is no cure for food allergies, the only way to prevent a reaction is to avoid the food,” says Ms Said.
Anaphylaxis Australia helps to provide information and support for those living with the risk of a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis, which requires planning, diligence and clear communication.
“We aim to continue to educate the community about food allergies as it affects schools, pre-schools, the food industry and the Government,” said Ms Said.
“Everyone needs to understand the seriousness of the condition and know that what they do can directly impact on sufferers”
Dietician Kelly Lambert, a Clinical lecturer at the University of Wollongong, says it’s important to increase people’s awareness of allergies. A simple slip up can mean a serious consequence.
“Having an allergy, from personal experience, people carry around a stigma with it. It makes them feel different, it’s not their fault but they often feel like they’re a pain to request a particular food or to not have certain things in a meal,” Ms Lambert says.
“The most common ingredients in food are peanuts and other sorts of nuts, or shellfish.”
Both Ms Said and Ms Lambert agree that there is a difference between a food allergy and intolerance.
“An allergy is any amount of something that will cause an immune response, whereas an intolerance is something that will build up gradually. Everybody will have a different threshold,” Ms Lambert said.
It’s important that people are aware of the severity of food allergies, with an anaphylactic response causing life-threatening symptoms.
The University of Wollongong’s food outlets strive to cater for students of various dietary requirements, however there is always room for improvement.
“In an ideal world, every dish sold… for example a stir-fry dish, should state whether it’s gluten free, nut free or lactose free,” said Ms Lambert. “Then people can make an informed decision”
The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code requires all food labels to declare substances and ingredients in foods.
“I think better signposting of meals would be a really subtle way of increasing awareness of products and what’s available,” Ms Lambert said.
Yoga for allergies
Words by: JESS FEENEY
Multimedia by: SAM GATES
Video by: HARRISON VESEY