New research conducted by Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia on its member database has found that 4 out of 5 respondents have had an allergic reaction when eating away from home. These findings have been released as part of a call to action in Food Allergy Week for Australians to learn more about the potentially life-threatening effects of food allergy, how to prevent exposure to allergens and how to manage an allergic reaction.

Maria Said, CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, states, "There are still too many incidents involving the consumption of a known food allergen when eating out of the home. During Food Allergy Week we are asking all Australians – those who prepare and serve food (including family and friends), plus those with food allergies - to further educate themselves on how to better avoid allergic reactions, and how to manage them when they do occur."

The research, conducted by Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA), revealed:

  • Nearly 80 per cent of A&AA members have suffered a reaction/been served food that they are allergic to whilst eating away from home.
  • 70 per cent of A&AA members don't feel confident eating away from home.
  • 94 per cent of A&AA members don't think people have a good understanding of the seriousness of food allergy.

Food Allergy Week also sees the launch of Allergy Pal - a free smartphone app that helps parents better manage a child's allergies and allergic reactions by enabling fast access to their current ASCIA Action Plan. Allergy Pal helps reduce the stress of leaving your child with family and friends by giving them free, fast and easy access to the ASCIA Action Plan and the educational material needed to care for a child with food allergies. This includes on-the-spot access to life-saving personalised information about a child's allergy triggers and safe foods as added by the parent/carer.

Allergy Pal has been developed by Australian paediatric allergists, professors Mimi Tang and Katie Allen at the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in conjunction with Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia and the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA).

Writer, media commentator and Food Allergy Week ambassador Jo Abi knows first-hand the importance of allergy awareness, with her son Philip living with severe food allergies.

"My son Philip, aged 13 has severe egg and tree nut allergies and has suffered anaphylaxis three times in his life. He describes it as a feeling of discomfort, and painful itching in his mouth and throat that he can't scratch. He then feels a sense of dread washing over him as his body panics, swelling his airways. That's when he starts coughing, wheezing and struggling to breathe"

Philip has learned to carry his life-saving EpiPen® with him everywhere. While awareness about the seriousness of food allergies is improving, there is still a way to go until people with food allergies can feel safe eating away from home."

Ms Said stresses, "Each and every one of us has a vital role to play in reducing the incidence of reactions and knowing how to help manage a reaction appropriately. It doesn't take long to learn more about food allergy, but misunderstanding can be fatal."