The association The Allergy Team, the Benedict Blythe Foundation and ISBA have launched the 'Schools Allergy Code' in the UK, a code of conduct aimed at guaranteeing the safety of allergic pupils at school. (1)
1) Juvenile allergies
In the United Kingdom approximately 8% of children suffer from one or more allergies. This means that in schools each class has one or two allergic students.
The preparation of a plan prevention and immediate intervention is essential, considering that a small quantity of a substance to which the individual is allergic is enough to trigger an immunological reaction, even a lethal one.
2) The Schools Allergy Code
Among the promoters Of the Schools Allergy Code, the foundation created by the parents of Benedict Blythe, a 5-year-old boy with various allergies, who died in December 2021 after a snack at school, in circumstances not yet clarified, stands out.
Code proposed by the three organizations in the UK is a guide to best practices for implementing a comprehensive school approach to allergy safety and inclusion, to avoid the repetition of tragedies that must be prevented. It is divided into four chapters.
3) Adopt a whole-school approach
Every member of the school community – from pupils to parents to staff members – should understand allergy and their responsibility to reduce the risk. Allergy management is not just the responsibility of the medical team and catering.
Knowledge and skills of all staff must be strengthened through targeted training and education. This must include understanding the risk reduction and importance of inclusion, as well as the first aid response to the allergic reaction.
4) Communicate clearly
The school must provide information on their approach to allergy clearly and frequently. The institute must
– establish an allergy and anaphylaxis policy written in plain, accessible English, continuously updated, published online and communicated to all staff and interested members of the school community, including parents,
– ensure open communication with parents, teachers, support staff and caterers about children's individual needs, based on individual health plans for all children with allergies.
5) Governance and risk management
The training institute must create awareness of the allergic risk in all activities and processes. It is therefore essential
– establish governance structures and appoint an allergy officer,
– consider allergy in every risk assessment.
6) Timeliness in emergencies
Timeliness in case of an allergic reaction it can be a matter of life or death. For this reason, the Code requires the school to have systems, processes and medicines for emergencies.
For this purpose, the school must
– ensure that pupils prescribed epinephrine pens have two up-to-date devices accessible at all times and keep spare ones with the confidence that everyone knows where they are.
Timely administration of adrenaline, intramuscularly, represents the first aid pharmacological treatment in case of anaphylaxis. And the auto-injector drastically reduces surgery times. For this reason, Food Allergy Italia calls for its availability everywhere, (2)
– establish annual training on risk reduction and anaphylaxis for all staff,
– publish an anaphylaxis emergency response plan that allows staff to respond safely and immediately to an allergic reaction,
– practice applying the anaphylaxis emergency response plan.
(1) Schools Allergy Code. Benedict Blythe Foundation. https://www.benedictblythe.com/schoolsallergycode/
(2) Dario Dongo. Allergies, petition to guarantee adrenaline with auto-injector. GIFT (Great Italian Food Trade).
Professional journalist since January 1995, he has worked for newspapers (Il Messaggero, Paese Sera, La Stampa) and periodicals (NumeroUno, Il Salvagente). She is the author of journalistic surveys on food, she has published the book "Reading labels to know what we eat".