Food Allergy Cases in School Children on the Rise

By Jocelyn Levy | 2nd November 2020 | 8 min read

Food allergy cases in the UK are on the rise. That’s according to the national charity, Allergy UK. The charity revealed that the number of allergy sufferers in the UK is rising by 5% each year, and 50% of sufferers are children.

What’s more, the number of hospital admissions due to food allergies has risen by an unprecedented 500% in just a decade.
The most common reason for hospital admission is anaphylactic shock, with a third in children happening during their first day at school.

Many foods can cause allergic reactions including shellfish, kiwi fruit, strawberries and bananas. But eggs, cow’s milk and nuts are the most common allergies in children, with 1 in 70 children being allergic to peanuts.

Peanut allergy is also the most dangerous, causing half of all life threatening reactions. Worryingly, the number of children developing allergies to nuts is rapidly growing.

It is estimated that all schools in the UK have at least one student suffering from a nut allergy. Some schools may have more than one. This means that all schools in the UK may, at some point, be faced with a potential life-threatening situation.

Unfortunately, there is no clear policy as to how schools should deal with allergies. At present, schools work out their own protocol with parents of children with allergies. This leads to schools having varying ways of managing food allergies, and creating unrealistic parents’ expectations.

For instance, one school may take a relaxed approach, ensuring that their emergency procedures are covered, whilst another school may decide to make the whole school nut free and ban children, parents, teachers and staff from bringing in food containing nuts of any variety.

The latter can make many parents resentful as they may feel they are made to fit in around one individual. And since allergy charities like Anaphylaxis Campaign, don’t necessarily support ‘peanut bans’ in all schools, parents may criticise the school for going overboard with their policy.

Also, parents of children with other food allergies may demand the same ban of food their children are allergic to.
Unfortunately for schools, food allergy is a conundrum with no simple answer.

Standardising allergy protocols and staff training can go a long way towards getting the school’s response to an allergy attack right. But whilst waiting for standards to be put in place, schools can use new technology to ensure the safety of children with food allergies.

Use Technology To Ensure School Children Avoid Allergies

For instance, BioStore’s FasTrak cashless catering system has a school meal management section, which is able to include a child’s medical information, including specific food allergies, so when that particular child orders lunch, the system automatically locks out food that contains allergy ingredients.

This prevents the student from having food that can potentially trigger a life threatening reaction. In cases when reaction is slow to manifest, it will be easy for parents to check if the food served at school was the trigger, as they can log into the system and check the food that the student consumed for that day.

Additionally, student information is held securely on the school’s BioStore FasTrak system, so parents have peace of mind that their child can not get items of food that they are not suppose to receive. This also reduces the embarrassment of other children knowing their allergies, as the data is stored privately.

Related news stories:

The Independent: Safety alert over response to children’s food allergies
Allergy UK: Allergy Statistics