April 04, 2022
5 min read
April 04, 2022
5 min read
Source / Disclosures
Disclosures: Linde reports serving as vice president of communications and government and community affairs at FARE.
The recently passed federal fiscal year 2022 spending bill includes millions of dollars for research and school-based efforts that address food allergies, and the nonprofit Food Allergy Research & Education team applauds these efforts.
“There are more than 32 million Americans with life-threatening food allergies,” Jason Linde, MA, senior vice president of government and community affairs at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), told Healio. “It’s basically one out of every 10 Americans who have this problem.”
The bill increases the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Disease Consortium of Food Allergy Research (CoFAR) budget by 49.1%, boosting it by $ 3 million to a $ 9.1 million total for fiscal year 2022.
“This is a group of different academic institutions that make sure that different food allergy-related topics and research are taken on and examined,” Linde said. “We are very grateful for the $ 3 million increase. That’s rare. ”
CoFAR has been tasked with identifying the mechanisms underlying the development and loss of food allergies, identifying the genes associated with food allergy and developing immune intervention strategies for treatment.
“There are now more adults who are allergic to peanuts than there are children,” Linde said. “The adult onset of food allergy is an area that really needs research. There are many others as well, but that’s just one example of the need for these research dollars. ”
The new funding will expand CoFAR’s clinical research network while adding new “centers of excellence” in food allergy clinical care, according to FARE, and these centers will have proven expertise in food allergy research.
“These centers allow flexibility for the federal government to work with academic institutions to examine and create additional research and provide unique approaches to solving complex problems,” Linde said. “The creation of these centers for excellence is a step forward for our community.”
The bill also includes $ 2 million that the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP) will use in school-based efforts to address food allergies and reduce potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions, such as training on cross-contact for cafeteria workers.
The NCCDPHP currently studies and funds interventions designed to reduce the risks for heart disease, cancer, diabetes and other chronic diseases that drive the nation’s $ 3.8 trillion in annual health care costs.
“The CDC is obviously a trusted voice, and we are delighted that this money was provided for the nearly 6 million children with life-threatening food allergies,” Linde said.
FARE works with Congress and with federal agencies to improve the quality of life of people with food allergies, Linde said.
“We’re the largest nonprofit dedicated to advocating on behalf of the food allergy community in America. We are also the largest private funder of food allergy research. We have had an aggressive and successful advocacy effort here going on for a number of years, ”Linde said.
For example, Linde cited the group’s work to pass 2021’s Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education and Research (FASTER) Act, which requires sesame to be included on the ingredient labels of packaged foods beginning on Jan. 1, 2023. According to FARE, nearly 1.6 million Americans have a sesame allergy.
“Sesame is currently labeled as a natural spice or flavor. But it’s in everything, ”Linde said. “On certain issues, there needs to be a better response protecting our community, and better and more increased labeling is one of those areas.”
The FASTER Act also requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services to report on scientific opportunities in food allergy research. It mandated the establishment of a risk-based scientific process and framework for establishing additional allergens covered by the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act as well.
FARE conducts its lobbying for such legislation in person and online.
“Two years ago, we had about 125 food allergy advocates come to Washington, DC, for 2 days of programming. Then we took them up to the Hill, and they visited with their members of Congress and staff. We had a similar program last March, ”Linde said.
Members of the community such as parents of children with food allergies told their personal stories during these face-to-face meetings so legislators could understand their challenges firsthand.
“Generally, it’s a mom describing her anxieties and worries as she sends her child with life-threatening allergies off to school,” Linde said. “So, we’re really grateful to Congress for listening to our community and delighted for the additional dollars.”
FARE lobbied for the funding in the fiscal year 2022 spending bill as well.
“We started working on the school piece last year. We’ve been meeting since last April with members of Congress in both the House and Senate, basically raising awareness and the need for better food allergy training, ”Linde said. “This is something we do on a regular basis. We don’t often succeed, but when we do, we’re grateful. “
This year, FARE will conduct virtual meetings with Congress from May 16-19 with a focus on several bills, such as one extending the expiration date of epinephrine.
“Epinephrine is very expensive, even if you have health insurance,” Linde said. “It has a 1-year expiration date, even though the medicine works well beyond 1 year.”
Congress also will be in the early stages of planning fiscal year 2023, and FARE will be advocating for more funding targeting food allergies.
“The President will soon be sending his budget to Congress, and that’s where he lays out his general spending priorities. Then Congress will take a look at it and have hearings and decide where they want to spend the dollars, ”Linde said. “We’re going to do our best to be a part of it.”
FARE invites doctors, patients and other stakeholders to join these efforts by signing up as advocates on the organization’s website, foodallergy.org. Currently, FARE boasts more than 70,000 advocates across the country, including all 435 Congressional House districts.
“I can recall a meeting with a Senate aide from Kansas and a mom from Overland Park. When she spoke, that legislative staffer understood exactly why she was concerned, ”Linde said.
“The real power, our real ability to get things done on the Hill really comes from those 70,000 individuals who will meet with their lawmakers and staff and make asks on behalf of their community,” Linde said.