Food allergy in schools: The importance of government involvement

Tanya Lawlis, Sarah Bakonyi, Lauren T. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: Children have the highest rates of food-related allergic reactions. While 85% of children outgrow allergies including cow's milk and eggs by five years of age, allergies to peanuts and seafood continue into adulthood. The school setting poses a high-risk environment for allergen exposure. The aim of the present study was to examine the availability, drivers and communication of school food allergy awareness and management policies/guidelines in one Australian education jurisdiction. Methods: A cross-sectional study comprising an online survey of principals on school allergy awareness (n = 100) was conducted in public, catholic and independent primary and high schools in an Australian education jurisdiction between August 2011 and November 2012. Results: Sixty-three per cent (17/27) of schools responding to the survey reported using food allergy management guidelines. An average of 13 students per school were reported to have a food allergy with 93% of schools reported having students with at least one food allergy. Parents, not government policy, were identified as primary drivers of food allergy guideline implementation and a third of schools provided anaphylaxis training annually. Communication of food allergy management was limited with only 42 school websites either providing access to policies/guidelines or providing a food allergy statement. Conclusions: Detailed awareness and management guidelines are integral for schools to adequately manage food-induced allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in the school environment. To enable this, national government support through legislation and policy is needed to ensure a consistent, up-to-date and policed approach to food allergy management in the Australian education sector.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-87
Number of pages6
JournalNutrition and Dietetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


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