Allergies and injuries related to them are on the rise across the USA. BBC statistics show that hospital visits for allergy control rose threefold over a ten-year period, with similar trends seen in Europe and Australia. Whether from previously undetected allergies, or from new cases, these conditions are becoming more prevalent and injuries related to them are common. Addressing this issue is crucial, and there are several steps that legislators across the world are taking to try and take the allergy challenge head-on - starting in the UK, with Natasha’s Law.
Most allergies are related to food, and especially serious are allergies that lead to anaphylaxis. Improper labeling of food products is often the culprit here, and can land catering services in hot water. As Very Well Health outlines, there is a schedule of substances in US law that must be highlighted on any food packaging to ensure that those diagnosed with allergies are able to pick and choose what they eat safely. However, this argument does not go far enough. A new law in the UK, Natasha’s Law, has been established in response to the death of a teenage girl who had eaten an improperly labeled sandwich. As part of the law, an expanded list of 14 allergens has been established. Arguably, legislators in the USA need to take this example to ensure that food packaging is safe for those with allergies - and change is happening.
It was sesame that caused the events leading to the introduction of Natasha’s Law in the UK, and there has been an impact in the USA as a result. According to New Food Magazine, the Biden administration will sign into law a new measure defining sesame as a major allergen, expanding the protections provided when it comes to allergens. However, while it’s good news that more allergens are being classified, more needs to be done to protect everyday people, as scientific studies are showing the expansion of allergies.
Growing cause for concern
Allergies are often associated with children. Over the course of adolescence, many allergies will go away - just as conditions like asthma and eczema are found in young children, but are often gone by adulthood. However, according to EurekAlert!, there are growing numbers of adults with peanut allergies in the USA, and the number now exceeds the number of children diagnosed with the condition. This shows a wider trend of more allergies, and more serious allergies, across the general populace. Current laws may not be suitable for protecting these people. While the number of allergens scheduled in law is growing, there are questions as to whether the protections themselves are fit for purpose.
The shifting face of allergies and allergic reactions is something scientists are investigating; there’s a clear move away from children carrying the largest burden of allergies. These conditions are prolonged into adulthood now, and that means adults need greater protection to stay safe and healthy.