Media Kit

Anaphylaxis Canada is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those at risk for anaphylaxis and those who care for them. We are committed to creating a safer world for people with food allergies through research, education and advocacy.

Background

  • The organization was officially founded in 2001, with the merging of two groups: The Anaphylaxis Network of Canada and The Anaphylaxis Foundation of Canada. Today, Anaphylaxis Canada is the country's leading advocacy and education organization for individuals and families at risk from a severe allergic reaction.
  • With staff in Toronto, Ontario and Kamloops, BC, and volunteers across the country, Anaphylaxis Canada delivers vital information, innovative programs and important services to more than 10,000 individuals per year.
  • Anaphylaxis Canada works closely with medical advisors - allergists from across the country - who help guide the programs and services we offer as well as the advocacy positions we take.
  • We offer a range of educational and allergy management programs and services. For more information on these programs and services go to the Educators section.

Vision

A society that is safe for people living with life threatening allergies through well informed, supportive and responsive communities.

Mission

To educate, support, and advocate for the needs of individuals and families living with anaphylaxis, as well as to support and participate in research related to anaphylaxis.

Values

  • People-centric - We believe in self-management and we strive to understand the perspectives and realities of people living and dealing with life-threatening allergies.
  • Empowerment - We believe people need to be empowered in order to make positive decisions that reduce the risk of anaphylaxis.
  • Balanced Approach - We believe in a research-based and pragmatic approach to dealing with life-threatening allergies. We look for win-win solutions and avoid "all or nothing" approaches.
  • Collaboration - We believe the best approach to creating safer, healthier communities is to partner with other like-minded organizations and individuals.
  • Leadership - We believe in always producing top quality resources. We are also not afraid to make our voice heard and lead on important issues and initiatives.

About Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis

Key facts:
  • Food allergy is a growing public health issue in Canada.
  • There is no cure; avoidance of an allergenic food is the only way to prevent an allergic reaction.
  • Approximately 2.5 million Canadians self-report having at least one food allergy.*
  • The incidence is highest amongst young children (under 3) with close to 6% affected by food allergy.
  • Peanut allergy in Canada affects about 2 in 100 children.
  • About 300,000 Canadian children under 18 years have food allergies.
  • According to recent studies in the US, it appears that the incidence of peanut and tree nut allergy among children has tripled (1997 to 2008).
  • One in two Canadians know someone with a serious food allergy.
  • More than 40% of Canadians read food labels looking for allergen information.
  • In 2005, the Government of Ontario passed Sabrina's Law, requiring all school boards in the province to establish and maintain an anaphylaxis policy. Other provinces including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Newfoundland, have legislation or guidelines similar to Sabrina's Law.
  * Overall Prevalence of Self-reported Food Allergy in Canada, L. Soller et al, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology February 2012 (Abstract)

Q and A

 What is anaphylaxis?

Anaphylaxis (pronounced anna-fill-axis) is a serious allergic reaction that is rapid in onset and may cause death. An allergen is a substance capable of causing an allergic reaction. Upon first exposure, the immune system treats the allergen as something to be rejected and not tolerated. This process is called sensitization. Re-exposure to the same allergen in the now sensitized individual may result in an allergic reaction that, in its most severe form, is called anaphylaxis. (Source: www.allergysafecommunities.ca)

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What are the signs of an anaphylactic reaction?

An anaphylactic reaction can involve any of the following symptoms, which may appear alone or in any combination, regardless of the triggering allergen:

  • Skin system: hives, swelling, itching, warmth, redness, rash
  • Respiratory system (breathing): coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, chest pain/tightness, throat tightness, hoarse voice, nasal congestion or hay fever-like symptoms (runny itchy nose and watery eyes, sneezing), trouble swallowing
  • Gastrointestinal system (stomach): nausea, pain/cramps, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Cardiovascular system (heart): pale/blue colour, weak pulse, passing out, dizzy/lightheaded, shock
  • Other: anxiety, feeling of "impending doom", headache, uterine cramps, metallic taste

Because of the unpredictability of reactions, early symptoms should never be ignored, especially if the person has suffered an anaphylactic reaction in the past. It is important to note that anaphylaxis can occur without hives. (Source: www.allergysafecommunities.ca)

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What causes an anaphylactic reaction?

Food is one of the most common causes of anaphylaxis, but insect stings, medicine, latex, and exercise can also cause a reaction.

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What are the most common food allergens in Canada?

The most common food allergens are: peanuts, tree nuts, seafood (fish, shellfish, crustaceans), egg, milk, sesame, soy, and wheat. The government considers these "priority" allergens for labelling purposes. From August 2012, mustard will be added to this list.

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How much of a food allergen does it take to cause a reaction?

Even a very small amount 'hidden' in a food or a trace amount of an allergen transferred to a serving utensil has the potential to cause a severe allergic reaction.

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Can someone have a reaction without ingesting their allergen?

Inhalation of airborne peanut protein can cause allergic reactions, though usually not systemic anaphylaxis. The odor alone has not been known to cause an anaphylactic reaction. Direct ingestion of an allergy-causing food poses the greatest risk for the sensitized individual.

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Can someone who is allergic to a food have an allergic reaction after kissing someone who has eaten that food?

Individuals with food allergies are at risk of having a reaction from kissing someone who has recently eaten a food allergen. People at risk need to tell their friends and partners about their food allergies to avoid accidental exposure.

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How are allergic reactions avoided?

Effective ingredient label reading, special precautions for food preparation, proper hand washing and cleaning go a long way toward reducing the risk of an accidental exposure. An allergic reaction can usually be treated effectively with a prompt injection of epinephrine/adrenaline (e.g., EpiPenĀ® or Allerject™).

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Why does food allergy seem to be on the rise?

One theory, known as the "hygiene hypothesis", suggests that people living in western countries are living in cleaner and more sanitized environments. The immune system - exposed to fewer germs than our bodies are used to dealing with - mistakenly identifies certain foods as harmful. Genetics also play a role in the development of food allergies. For example, if one parent has allergies, their child has a greater risk of developing allergies as well.

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