National food policy plan overlooks food allergy—commentary

Why are 50% of Canadian households—those affected by food allergy, either directly or indirectly—ignored in a national food policy plan to address healthy living and safe food?

The question is raised in a new Canadian Food Studies commentary by AllerGen investigator Dr. Susan Elliott and AllerGen Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) Francesca Cardwell, both of the University of Waterloo.

Both the Prime Minister’s Mandate Letter (2015), which outlines an agenda item to develop a national food policy, and the Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) special publication focused on chronic disease prevention fail to recognize food allergy for what it is: a chronic health issue representing a significant and growing public health problem, according to the authors.

To address this gap, AllerGen, working in an integrated fashion with end-users including policymakers, is supporting the development of a National Food Allergy Strategy (NFAST) for Canada.

“We need to make strong policy choices—for example, around food labelling issues and creating safe spaces in school settings—that can maximize choice and minimize risk for Canadians affected by food allergy,” says Dr. Elliott, a professor of Geography and Environmental Management.

“More and more children with food allergies are growing up and entering colleges, universities, and the workforce, where no policies exist to provide them with safe spaces or to deal with adverse reactions,” she says. “NFAST is a step in the right direction, but we urgently need a national food policy that recognizes food allergy as a chronic health issue,” she adds.

Read the commentary.