Back in July, we invited parents to participate in a survey on behalf of Anne F Russell, MS, BSN, RN, AE-C and her colleagues for a study about food allergy management during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study based on that survey entitled “Parent perspectives on food allergy management and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic” was recently published in the Journal of Food Allergy.
Aside from providing a wealth of insights into the concerns of parents of children coping with food allergies, the study features a table that provides a checklist of important considerations meant to guide medical providers in discussions with parents during the pandemic. The table also provides an excellent checklist for parents to help ready their families for the coming COVID-19 surge which is expected to impact day-to-day activities through Spring 2021.
Table 5 — Suggested basic food allergy patient education discussion points during the COVID-19 pandemic to individualize for established pediatric patients
- Review the need to maintain avoidance of diagnosed food allergens even during periods of quarantine and stay-at-home restrictions.
- Review the importance of knowing all the ingredients of any food/beverage before consumption (e.g., read ingredient labels; ways diagnosed food allergen can be described on a label in food and nonfood products).
- Discuss the temporary FDA policy that allows food manufacturers to make certain minor ingredient formulation changes during food supply chain disruptions without conforming to ingredient label changes.
- Review the need to contact manufacturers with questions with regard to food label content, production processes and/or protein cross-contact risks, and to check their website for ingredient changes.
- Recommend cooking and baking ahead to safely store and/or freeze meals free of avoided food allergens.
- Suggest having home supply of nonperishable foods/beverages free of avoided food allergens.
- Propose contacting store managers with regard to supply shortages of preferred food allergen-free brands to request increased order quantities of specific products; consider purchasing preferred products directly from a manufacturer.
- Emphasize following food allergen–avoidance measures when purchasing unfamiliar product brands.
- Discuss any concerns about food insecurity and/or nutritional deficit risk and provide referrals (e.g., social worker, dietician) as needed.
- Address pandemic impact on mental/emotional health and coping strategies with referral as needed.
- Provide interactive review of a patient-specific AEP with updates as needed to include any pandemic-related changes in management steps.
- Emphasize the need for available and accessible prescribed unexpired EAIs at home and school.
- Evaluate the ease of access to EAIs and assist the patient in problem-solving any barriers.
- Provide an interactive review of the use of an EAI trainer and evaluate caregiver technique and the understanding of the medication.
- Encourage having prescribed medication refills completed as needed to ensure availability for the near future.
- Address any pandemic-related patient-specific changes to school food allergy management (e.g., dining options; 504 plan modifications [A Section 504 plan is a type of plan used in schools for students needing extensive accommodations.]) within the context of school-specific resources and shared decision-making with regard to risk mitigation needs.
COVID-19 = Coronavirus disease 2019; FDA = U.S. Food and Drug Administration; AEP = anaphylaxis emergency plan; EAI = epinephrine autoinjector.
#From Refs. 5, 16, and 25.
We encourage you to review the above checklist and discuss any open issues with your child’s medical professional as soon as possible.