Food Allergy "Joke" on the Emmy Awards Show

 

September 19, 2016

ABC Network Headquarters
77 West 66th Street
New York, New York 10023

Dear ABC Network,


On behalf of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) and the more than 15 million Americans living with food allergies, I’m writing with some concerns about a comedy bit on the Emmys that aired on ABC on Sunday, September 18, 2016. The joke – presented by host Jimmy Kimmel – involved the distribution of thousands of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the audience in attendance. While we understand this was an attempted aim at the recent pricing events for epinephrine auto-injectors that has been broadcast in the media over the last several weeks, it wasn’t well-received by the larger food allergy community. Yes, it’s true that humor can help bring prominence to critical issues but, in this case, it’s clear that Mr. Kimmel and his writers did not think about how this segment might affect millions of people that face danger each and every day – not to mention the carelessness regarding the safety of the audience. And, someone as well-respected as Jimmy Kimmel should want to help make a difference in what can often be a life or death situation.

It’s critical to understand that individuals with a nut allergy must avoid the presence of nuts and nut products, as contact can cause a life-threatening allergic reaction. During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment. The very real fear and anxiety that people experience during an allergic reaction (often referred to as an impending sense of doom) is a serious matter. Poking fun at food allergies hurts our community because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this careless attitude may encourage behavior that could put an allergic person in great danger.

AAFA welcomes the opportunity to educate ABC – as well as Mr. Kimmel and his writing staff –about the realities of food allergies so that everyone can better understand and recognize the severity of the disease.  Please feel free to reach out to me at media@aafa.org. I’m more than happy to discuss this with you.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of American (AAFA) is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1953 – we’re the largest patient organization for people with asthma and allergies, and the oldest asthma and allergy patient group in the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 million Americans have allergies.1 There is no cure for food allergies. Living with food allergy can have negative effects on the quality of life of patients and their families because they need to remain vigilant about accidental exposures.2 The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has a project underway to examine critical issues related to food allergy (FA), including the prevalence and severity of FA and its impact on affected individuals, families, and communities; and current understanding of FA as a disease, and in diagnostics, treatments, prevention, and public policy.3

Thank you for your time regarding this matter. I hope you have a wonderful day.

Best regards,

Adam Bailine
Vice President, Marketing & Communications
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America



References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Allergies. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthcommu.../tips/allergies.html Published 2011. Accessed September 19, 2016.
  2. https://www.niaid.nih.gov/topi...archFoodAllergy.aspx
  3. http://www.nationalacademies.o...sthash.V46yuiLk.dpuf
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Comments (1)

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Thank you for this letter.  I wish you could address his comment that he was going to ask who had a gluten allergy so the audience can identify the most annoying actors.  Having a gluten allergy is real, having Celiac is real, and people who live with a gluten allergy and Celiac already have to live with people not taking them seriously because of those who adopt gluten-free as a lifestyle rather than a necessity.  Having Jimmy Kimmel pile on to that with a joke about gluten allergies to a large national audience is hurtful.  

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