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Nutr Diet. 2017 Feb;74(1):82-87. doi: 10.1111/1747-0080.12225. Epub 2015 Sep 28.

Food allergy in schools: The importance of government involvement.

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School of Public Health and Nutrition, University of Canberra, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia.
School of Allied Health Sciences, Griffith University, Southport, Queensland, Australia.



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.


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.


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.


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.


anaphylaxis; child; food allergy; guideline; management; school


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