National Food Allergy Awareness Week Launched: High allergy incidence in Australia

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 15th May 2012

The National Food Allergy Awareness Week, to raise awareness about food allergies in Australia, was launched in Sydney yesterday (14 May 2012) by NSW Minister for Primary Industries and Small Business, Katrina Hodgkinson.

Food Allergy Awareness Week is an initiative of Anaphylaxis Australia. The week helps to promote and develop through education, research and ongoing support, the awareness of food allergy amongst Australians.

According to Australian Government statistics, Australia currently has one of the highest allergy rates in the world. In Australia, one in ten children under the age of five years and an increasing number of adults have food allergies.

In 2012 the campaign features as ambassadors comedian Peter Helliar, celebrity chef Alex Herbert and Dr Mukesh Haikerwal, GP and former president of the Australian Medical Association and Anthony Field from The Wiggles.

Minister Hodgkinson said, “While there is a wealth of information available to help families adjust to food allergies, the food service industry also needs guidance as several studies from around the world have shown that most severe allergic reactions occur when eating away from home.

“That’s why this year’s Food Allergy Awareness Week is focussing on informing food service businesses. Food allergies can have devastating, even fatal consequences if not correctly understood and managed by those in the food service industry.

The NSW Food Authority, in partnership with Anaphylaxis Australia, has developed the ‘Be Prepared, Be Allergy Aware, It’s Worth The Effort’ booklet which is being distributed by local councils.

Industry supportive

As a major sponsor of Food Allergy Awareness week, the Australian Food and Grocery Council has urged consumers with food allergies to be extra diligent when reading food labels in supermarkets.

AFGC’s Acting Chief Executive Dr Geoffrey Annison said the AFGC has been working with a range of stakeholders including Anaphylaxis Australia, the Allergen Bureau and Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) to develop initiatives such as the AFGC Code of Practice for Food Labelling and Promotion which includes the Food Industry Guide to Allergen Management and Labelling.

“It is important for food manufacturers to do their bit – and they certainly do – through the labelling and careful control of manufacturing processes,” Dr Annison said. “But of course, it’s the responsibility of the consumer also to be careful about what they put in their mouth.”