Since 1990 the UK has seen a 500% increase in the number of reported allergies which lead to hospitalisation.

A food allergy occurs when the body produces an inappropriate response to a usually harmless substance. Symptoms can include a rash, a tingling sensation in the mouth, swelling of the lips, tongue, face and throat. The chemicals released by the immune system spread throughout the whole body. This reaction is called anaphylaxis.

Severe allergy is always an emergency situation requiring a dose of adrenaline administered via an EpiPen®, an adrenaline auto-injector. Until October 2017, children with severe allergies always had to carry their own EpiPen® at school.

However, the Department of Health recently announced a plan to change legislation and as a result, from October 2017 schools are now able to hold a spare adrenaline injector for use in case of emergencies. The campaign has been led by the Anaphylaxis Campaign alongside Allergy UK and the British Society for Allergy and Clinically Immunology. In the UK, 17% of fatal allergic reactions in school-aged children happen while at school.

In the UK, up to 6% of children and young people have a food allergy. Although most children with anaphylaxis respond to a single adrenaline auto-injector, some children may require a further dose and it is possible that devices may misfire or be used incorrectly. Therefore, within schools, children at risk of anaphylaxis should have access to two adrenaline auto-injectors at all times. There will now be a public consultation and the development of a training programme for school staff.

Tess Warnes BSc RD, avisso’s Company Dietitian, said that “this move will improve the response time for children who suffer an allergic reaction within a school environment, as they won’t just have to rely on their own EpiPen®. This will give peace of mind to children, parents and teachers alike”.

Carla Jones, chief executive of Allergy UK, said the change in regulations meant parents could feel more confident about their children’s safety during school time.

“We hope that many schools will take advantage of the new law – we have already had a number of enquiries and we look forward to being part of the campaign going forward to encourage schools to participate.” (Source: BBC News)

At avisso, our experienced Registered Dietitian can offer training and support on a wide range of topics including the latest nutritional laws, legislation, including EUFIC (around allergens) and food labelling, food allergens and recipe analysis.