Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Food Safety Bill Passes Congress!

by Kelley Lindberg

Great news! On Dec. 21, the food safety bill called the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) was passed by Congress. This act will create voluntary but badly needed national guidelines for managing food allergies in schools.

Timed to coincide with FAAMA’s passage, USA Today printed a special supplement last week devoted entirely to food allergy. The USA Today Food Allergy supplement includes short, concise, and informative articles on the difference between intolerance and allergy, the latest treatment studies, how to recognize a reaction, tips for celebrating the New Year safely, a personal experience from chef and FAAN spokesperson Ming Tsai. It also includes ads and coupons for food-allergy-friendly manufacturers.

Chris Weiss, VP of Advocacy and Government Relations at the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), sent out a letter to FAAN members explaining why FAAMA is so important, and why this is such good news for us. Here is what Chris says:

Members of the food allergy community:

This is Chris Weiss, FAAN's VP of Advocacy and Government Relations, and I'd like to share some GREAT NEWS!

Five years after the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act (FAAMA) was introduced in the U.S. Congress, FAAMA has finally passed as part of the food safety bill and is expected to be signed into law by President Obama.

FAAMA was originally introduced into Congress back in 2005 as part of FAAN's inaugural Kids' Congress on Capitol Hill.

Five years later, and after overcoming some last-minute procedural hurdles during the lame duck session, the food safety bill was approved by the Senate on Dec. 19, and then by the House on Dec. 21.

FAAMA will lead to the much-needed creation of national food allergy management guidelines for schools. While these guidelines are voluntary, they will provide schools without existing food allergy management policies with a valuable resource.

These policies are critical to help educate school officials about food allergy, a potentially life-threatening medical condition, and help them implement emergency plans in case a severe reaction occurs on school grounds. Studies have shown that up to 25% percent of reactions in school occur in children with previously undiagnosed food allergy.

Earlier this month, a fatal reaction occurred at a school in Chicago, allegedly due to food that was consumed at school.

The guidelines will also benefit parents of children with food allergies, who are looking for a vetted resource to help them safely manage their child’s food allergies in the school setting.

Written in collaboration with FAAN, the national guidelines will not supersede existing or pending state laws or guidelines concerning schools and food allergies. The FAAMA guidelines should be seen as a complement to existing guidelines created as a result of other legislation.

This tremendous accomplishment was made possible by the thousands of individuals who advocated for this legislation and many elected representatives who co-sponsored FAAMA over the years, most notably Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), whose daughter has a food allergy, and Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who has a grandchild with a food allergy.

We celebrate the passage of FAAMA today, but our work is not done. FAAN will continue to work diligently to raise awareness, educate others, and advocate on behalf of the millions of Americans with food allergy and anaphylaxis.

I'd personally like to thank all of you who took the time to contact your Senator(s) and Representative in support of FAAMA, along with the hundreds of families who attended the FAAN Kids' Congress on Capitol Hill in 2005, 2007, and 2009. We couldn't have done it without you.

Thank you!
And many thanks to the folks at FAAN who pushed for 5 years to make this happen. What a great way to ring in a new year…

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