Asthma and Allergy Awareness (AAFA.org)
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The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) sent a letter to Lorne Michaels, executive producer of The Jimmy Fallon Show asking the network to take food allergies seriously — which they have not done for the first time:
On behalf of Kids With Food Allergies (KFA), a division of the AAFA, and the more than 32 million Americans living with life-threatening food allergies, I am writing to share our concerns about a recent segment on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. We are disheartened that the show has once again mocked the significance of food allergies in the lives of millions of Americans.
In the segment titled “Emotional Interview” with Jimmy Fallon and Milo Ventimiglia, the pair are instructed to display the “emotion” of having your tongue swell up. Both begin to crack jokes about shellfish and EpiPens® while gagging, and Milo ultimately falls out of his seat and off camera.
This is not funny. Having a severe allergic reaction, or anaphylaxis, is not a joke. The very real fear that people experience during an allergic reaction is a serious matter and should never be a punchline. Anaphylaxis is a serious immune response to an allergen and can be fatal if not treated promptly. Making light of this condition hurts adults, young adults, and children because it encourages their peers not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously.
This portrayal can also encourage bullying. Over one-third of food allergic children have reported being bullied because of their food allergies.1 So you and your team can become more enlightened, we encourage you to visit NoAppetiteForBullying.
We strongly urge you to refrain from this type of programming in the future and to finally pledge to stop using food allergies as a harmful punchline. We would once again welcome the opportunity to educate your network and the cast about the realities of food allergies so that they and your viewing audience can better understand and recognize the gravity of the disease.
Kenneth Mendez, President and CEO
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Overall, New Jersey meets 20 of 23 core policy standards and 10 of 13 extra credit indicators of the AAFA, and has been on their State Honor Roll since 2008. A New Jersey law requires schools to maintain supply of epinephrine and to administer to a student having an anaphylactic reaction.