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Information update

Reminding Parents of School Lunch Allergen Safety

Starting date:
August 28, 2013
Posting date:
August 28, 2013
Type of communication:
Information Update
Allergen - Peanut, Allergen - Sesame Seeds, Allergen - Soy, Allergen - Tree Nut, Allergen - Wheat
Source of recall:
Health Canada
Food Safety
General Public
Identification number:


As children head back to the classroom, Health Canada is reminding parents of the importance of allergy awareness when packing school lunches. Severe allergic reactions can happen quickly and without warning, and can be life-threatening to allergic children.

It is estimated that as many as 1.2 million Canadians may be affected by allergies. Some studies indicate that these numbers are increasing, especially among children. Although many foods can cause allergic reactions, most allergic reactions in Canada are caused by peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, soy, seafood (such as fish, crustaceans and shellfish), wheat, eggs, milk, sulphites and mustard.

The symptoms of allergic reactions vary in type and severity, from mild skin irritations and hives to breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness. Symptoms can also develop at different rates, sometimes getting worse very quickly. The most dangerous symptoms include breathing difficulties or a drop in blood pressure with shock, which may result in loss of consciousness, anaphylaxis, or even death.

Because of this, many elementary schools are now restricting certain foods from students’ lunches. Parents are encouraged to follow school policies, even if their child isn’t allergic. To find out which foods, if any, are restricted in their children’s schools, you should contact the school directly.

To date, there is no cure for food allergies. Avoiding an allergen is the only effective way to prevent allergic reactions. This is why it is important that allergic children not be exposed to allergens that regularly cause extreme and sometimes fatal reactions.

To help parents and Canadians with food allergies identify foods that they should avoid, Health Canada has recently updated the rules governing the labelling of priority allergens. Details are available on Health Canada’s website.

Allergy associations, such as Anaphylaxis Canada, the Allergy Asthma Information Association, or the Association Quebecoise des Allergies Alimentaires, also provide further information, including tips and strategies for educators, schools and other organizations for creating allergy safe communities.

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Health Canada
(613) 957-2983

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1-866 225-0709