Editorial | Awareness wins in food allergy debate

NUTS and eggs are in more foods than you think – and one local family learned that the hard way. 

Nick Mainey was just two-years-old when he was diagnosed with a string of allergies. 

He ate a meringue at a friend’s place and within minutes, he was vomiting. His face was swollen and he developed welts. 

After a series of skin prick tests, it was determined he was anaphylactic to bees, peanuts, tree nuts and eggs.

Those allergies might be manageable at home, but when your child goes to school, it can be a different story.

That’s why this week – Food Allergy Awareness Week – is all about education. 

Nick’s mum Heidi is sharing her story this week in the hope of boosting awareness of food allergies. 

Nick carries an epipen around with him everywhere – to school, on the bus, when he visits friends and family. 

He knows what he can and can’t have. But it is nearly impossible for schools to be nut-free zones. Cross-contamination is an issue. 

All it takes is a child to share some food that may have been cross-contaminated to send Nick into an anaphylactic reaction.

Some argue that schools should be nut-free. 

A poll conducted by Fairfax this week revealed 54 per cent of respondents believed a nut ban should be introduced. But Mrs Mainey insists that won’t solve the issue. 

“There are so many food allergies out there and it would be impossible to just eliminate nuts,” she said.

“It’s about educating children on not sharing food and washing their hands after they eat.”

Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia say about one in three people will develop allergies at some time during their life.

Food allergies seem to be a growing trend that we can help address through education and awareness.

We might not be able to eradicate allergens in certain, but we can all play a part in making it easy for those affected. 

It starts with awareness – learning what triggers who, how to recognise someone who is having an allergic reaction, and how to respond.

New research reveals four out of five Australian adults would not be able to recognise if someone was having a potentially fatal allergic reaction. Experts warn “allergy ignorance” costs lives. 

Let’s do our bit to help save a life.


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