Food Allergy Awareness Week Should Come to Maryland
UPDATE, May 1st, 2021: PROCLAMATION DECLARED! Governor Hogan accepted!
May 9–15, 2021, is Food Allergy Awareness Week. Food allergies affect an estimated 1 in 10 of Americans. Over 32 million Americans have a serious and potentially life-threatening food allergy. The overall economic cost of food allergy in the U.S. is nearly $25 billion annually — or over $4,000 per child. Maryland has these issues as well. To increase awareness and knowledge about the growing problem of food allergies, and to continue to pressure businesses such as restaurants, airports, and food manufacturers to optimally label, warn, and respect patrons about food allergies, I believe Food Allergy Awareness Week should come to our state.
More state by state information can be found here.
My 1-year-old son has been diagnosed with allergies to peanuts and milk. My wife and I have witnessed him miserable with hives and vomiting. Every facet of our lives has changed. Clothes are often washed after every meal. Every surface is cleaned more often (allergens can stay on surfaces for up to 110 days — that peanut butter sandwich you had 3 months ago could still be dangerous to someone with an allergy). We religiously check foods for ingredients or possible cross-contamination from foods being prepared on the same manufacturing lines as other foods containing peanuts or milk. We are mostly at the mercy of food production companies and the laws pushing them to provide up-to-date and honest information. It isn’t always enough. We have had to toss items from snacks to pet food to shampoos due to possible cross-contamination in production facilities.
As terrifying as it is, we have been very lucky to live in Maryland. Our son has taken part in Oral Immunotherapy (OIT) for peanut allergy at the Allergy & Asthma Center of Central Maryland. Our son can now eat 2 peanuts (500 mg) without any reaction. But that does not mean we can ever leave our home without an EpiPen, Benadryl, and bags full of disinfecting wipes to protect our child. That does not mean that entering a restaurant, store, or airport will stop being a daunting experience for us. Our hope is that Maryland, by taking part in Food Allergy Week, can be a beacon of hope for food allergen sufferers as well as an example for other states to follow.
To Governor Hogan:
On behalf of the 1 in 10 of residents with food allergies in Maryland, I am writing to request that a proclamation be issued this year for FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK, May 9–15, 2021.
Food allergies are a life-threatening disease that affects as many as 32 million Americans, and the prevalence is increasing. One in every 13 children has food allergies, or approximately two per classroom. Every three minutes, a severe food allergy reaction sends someone to an emergency room in the U.S., and the decade between 2007 and 2016 saw a 377 percent increase in serious allergic reactions to food requiring medical care.
There is no cure for food allergy. Allergic reactions to food can range from mild symptoms to anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction that can occur rapidly and is potentially life-threatening.
With your support in declaring FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK, we can continue to increase public awareness about food allergies. It is our objective to help educate schools, restaurants and the citizens of our state on the serious and potentially life-threatening nature of food allergies.
On behalf of all those affected by this life-altering disease, thank you for your consideration and support.
The Proclamation Request (A Draft):
FOOD ALLERGY AWARENESS WEEK PROCLAMATION
WHEREAS, as many as 32 million Americans have food allergies; nearly 6 million are children under the age of 18.
WHEREAS, research shows that the prevalence of food allergy is increasing among children and adults.
WHEREAS, nine foods cause the majority of all food allergy reactions in the U.S.: shellfish, fish, milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat and sesame. Symptoms of a food allergy reaction can range from mild to severe, such as anaphylaxis.
WHEREAS, anaphylaxis is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death.
WHEREAS, food allergy results in more than 200,000 U.S. emergency room visits each year. Reactions typically occur when an individual unknowingly eats a food containing an ingredient to which they are allergic.
WHEREAS, the number of food allergy reactions requiring emergency treatment is up sharply over the past decade, with a 377 percent rise in insurance claim lines with diagnoses of anaphylactic food reactions between 2007 and 2016.
WHEREAS, FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education) is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life and the health of individuals with food allergies, and to providing them hope through the promise of new treatments.
THEREFORE I, Larry Hogan, GOVERNOR for the state of Maryland, do hereby proclaim May 9–15, 2021: Food Allergy Awareness Week in the state of Maryland and encourage the residents of Maryland to increase their understanding and awareness of food allergies and anaphylaxis.
Marylanders, request the proclamation here: https://governor.maryland.gov/proclamation-requests/
Other Americans, request proclamations by starting here: https://www.foodallergy.org/resources/food-allergy-awareness-week-proclamations