Food Allergies in the Sky

Monday Review will return next Monday, Feb. 2, 2009 with a review of Go Picnic products.

In the meantime, having just returned from a family trip, I've got airlines and food allergy on my mind. There is a movement in Canada (a country that seems to be a step ahead of the US when it comes to food allergies) to request that Canada’s top airlines develop clear, consistent, communicated policies that include measures to prevent dangerous in-flight food allergy reactions. There is a quote about a U.S. study showing that 10 per cent of those with food allergies are having in-flight reactions. It can not be argued that an aircraft presents a unique environment. Medication from an Epi-Pen only lasts 15-20 minutes which would not allow enough time for a plane to land and for help to arrive.

We flew Southwest Airlines last week. They have always handled my son's allergies adequately, although only his peanut allergy is recognized, with no accommodation available for his other food allergies. When we arrive for our flight, we inform the attendant that we are flying with food allergies. We are given two "special passes" labeled peanut allergy- one to go to the flight attendant in the front of the plane and one to be handed to the flight attendant in the back. Peanut snacks are not served on our flight, although the airline is clear that they can not control what passengers bring on-board themselves. Clearly demonstrated when soon after take-off, the man in front of us asked his daughter if she wanted some peanut butter crackers. Ah well- the best laid plans...but, all was fine.

On our return flight, we were even given a pre-boarding pass so we could be first on the plane and could check and wipe down his seating area. Our deal with our son is that he doesn't eat anything on a flight unless it is an open package from which he has already eaten. Nothing new is opened. He's flown many times and we've not had a problem (I'm knocking on wood as I type). For those who are super-sensitive to peanut dust, flying probably wouldn't be an option.

Check this out for more info about the Canadian Airline initiative. They've had 920 people paticipate in their write-in campaign. I'll be the 921st as I believe in the foundation of this plan. Even if you don't live in Canada, consider writing in.

I'll keep you posted. Perhaps something similar in the US would make sense.

Check out my website for more information: www.foodallergyassistant.com
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