Allergy Awareness Week 2023
What is Allergy Awareness Week 2023?
Allergies are an increasingly common health issue affecting millions of people worldwide. From mild reactions to severe anaphylaxis, allergies can range from a minor inconvenience to a life-threatening condition. That’s why Allergy Awareness Week 2023, scheduled to start April 24, is looking to raise awareness about the challenges faced by individuals with allergies and educate people about how they can help.
Allergy Awareness Week was founded by Allergy UK, a charity that offers support to people living in the UK with allergies ranging from food allergies to hay fever and more. It is estimated that allergies affect the lives of 41 million people in the UK, with up to 8% of children having a food allergy. Though they are more common in children, allergies can develop at any age, and often children with allergies have at least one parent who also possesses an allergy.
Living with allergies can drastically alter the way people live, with them having to take certain precautions to limit chance of exposure to their allergen. Allergy Awareness Week 2023 looks to raise awareness and encourage people to be considerate of those living with allergies.
Are allergies and intolerances the same thing?
Allergies occur when the body has an unusual reaction to something that is usually harmless, such as certain foods, pollen, or animal dander. When someone has an allergy, their body acts as though the harmless substance is something more dangerous, like a virus or bacteria. In response, the body produces a substance called histamine to fight off what it thinks is a threat.
Histamine brings on symptoms, the severity and type of which can vary depending on the type of allergy in question. For example, a triggered food allergy might lead to symptoms such as hives, itching, or trouble breathing. A pollen allergy may lead to sneezing, a runny nose, or itchy eyes.
Though Allergy Awareness Week 2023 aims to draw attention to allergies, it is also very important to highlight the differences between allergies and intolerances. While food intolerances can be painful, both physically and mentally, for people who suffer from them, and lead to them feeling very unwell, food intolerances are not life threatening. Intolerances to foods can be caused by a variety of things, with lactose intolerance, for example, meaning some people have adverse reactions to dairy products. However, an intolerance to a food is not triggered by an immune system response as it is with an allergy
Producing an allergy policy
One of the hopes of Allery Awareness Week 2023 is that attention can be drawn to some of the ways in which people without allergies can help improve the lives of those with them. For schools and education settings, having policies and procedures in place to help and protect food allergy sufferers is not only a step towards greater inclusion, but is part of a wider duty of care.
Under the Food Information Regulations 2014, all school caterers are required to show the allergen ingredients’ information for the food they serve. This makes it easier for schools to identify the food that pupils with allergies can or cannot eat. Schools have a duty to establish effective risk management practices to minimise exposure to known trigger foods.
To help you make certain that your school is fulfilling its duty of care, we’ve produced a template allergy policy. Tailoring and enacting this policy will ensure that your school has effective processes in place, as well as effective health and safety control measures.