I have a 3-year-old son with food allergies, peanut among them.
Smurfs 2 opened today across the U.S. and the film wasted no time joking about food allergies, peanut specifically — jokes about something that can be fatal…in a movie geared toward children, those most at risk.
A 2011 study revealed that “40% of kids with food allergies experience severe symptoms such as wheezing and anaphylaxis, which is characterized by difficulty breathing and a sudden drop in blood pressure.”
“I don’t think people quite understand food allergy,” says study researcher Ruchi S. Gupta, MD, MPH, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “It could be something that’s life-threatening. It could cause death.”
The study found that food allergies were highest in preschoolers, peaking between 3 to 5 years of age.
Teenagers, however, particularly boys, were most likely to experience severe, life-threatening reactions.
Food allergies are not funny. We send snacks to school with our son because 95 percent of the time he can’t have what his classmates are having. At birthday parties, he gets a snack from us instead of cake. At restaurants, we talk to the chef about what is in their hamburgers and buns. Why? BECAUSE HE COULD DIE IF WE DON’T. We are vigilant, as are many parents, but sometimes even that isn’t enough. If people don’t deal with food allergies and/or are uneducated about them, they tend to underestimate the seriousness and potential consequences of an allergic reaction. More education is necessary.
My wife sent the following to Sony Pictures:
It is really disappointing and appalling that Sony Pictures chose to include a scene that makes fun of a child’s allergic reaction to peanuts in Smurfs 2. I can’t even begin to imagine how this scene made it through so many levels of approval and that no one in their right mind thought it was inappropriate enough to cut the scene (never mind that it should never have been written or shot to begin with).
I think the story about 13-year-old Natalie Giorgi who died last week from a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter while she was attending Camp Sacramento with her family is a tragic enough reminder that NO ONE should EVER make fun of food allergies, especially a company with such a high profile like Sony Pictures.
I was at an advanced screening of Smurfs 2 with my family and my husband and I were both shocked by the scene, while we sat next to our 3-year-old peanut allergic son and seven-year-old son who is always concerned and diligent about what his little brother eats.
How can we expect teachers, friends, caregivers & strangers to take his peanut allergy seriously when Sony Pictures includes a scene mocking an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts, a potentially fatal reaction, for cheap laughs????
Food allergies are scary and can be deadly. They’re definitely not funny.