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A kiss is more than just a kiss when you have a life-threatening food allergy. Anaphylaxis Canada offers tips to teens and adults for a safe Valentine’s Day

Candy, chocolates and stolen kisses may be synonymous with Valentine’s Day but can represent a challenging combination for the approximately 2.5 million Canadians who self-report at least one food allergy, the leading cause of anaphylaxis. As even a trace amount of an allergen may cause someone with food allergies to have a potentially-life threatening reaction, avoidance of those allergens is the only means of staying safe.

So while Valentine’s Day may make young people in particular want to throw caution to the wind, it is not worth the risk for those with food allergies. Teens and young people face unique challenges in managing their allergies: they have to navigate a number of social situations, contend with peer pressure, and balance a tendency towards risky behavior. Consider a recent Anaphylaxis Canada survey of youth members revealed that only 66% of respondents reported always carrying their adrenaline auto-injectors.

Anaphylaxis Canada offers some tips for those with food allergies hoping to be hit by Cupid’s arrow:
  • Do not be shy: make sure your date knows about your food allergies ahead of time.
  • Ask questions: ask to see ingredient labels for any food you are planning to consume, do not share utensils and cups, etc.., and be sure you both wash your hands and brush your teeth after eating.
  • Be prepared: always carry an auto injector (e.g. EpiPen®, Twinject® or Allerject™), wear MedicAlert® identification, and know what to do in the event of a reaction.
  • Before the big event – the kiss – be sure to ask your partner if they recently ate any of your allergens.

These safety precautions are unique in comparison to the pre-kiss worries of other Canadians. A 2011 Angus Reid Strategies poll showed the biggest worry for Canadians before their first kiss was whether they should close their eyes (33%), the smell of their breath (15%), “whether they should “French kiss” (14%), how attractive they looked (9%), or whether they would be caught in the act by their parents (7%).

In response, Anaphylaxis Canada released a public service announcement developed by advertising firm Zulu Alpha Kilo which depicts some of the worries a teen with food allergies faces. The video, appropriately titled “First Kiss” can be found here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cejHLq3uaik.

For more in-depth strategies on avoiding allergens and staying safe please visit Anaphylaxis Canada’s website: www.anaphylaxis.ca/en/daily_living/eating_safely.html and our site specifically designed for teens and young adults at www.whyriskit.ca.

To speak with a representative of Anaphylaxis Canada or a youth with food allergies about staying safe on Valentine’s Day please contact
Christopher Holcroft
Empower Consulting for Anaphylaxis Canada
416-996-0767/ ChristopherHolcroft@hotmail.ca


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