Written answers

Thursday, 8 December 2005

Department of Health and Children

Departmental Assistance

8:00 pm

Photo of Séamus KirkSéamus Kirk (Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Question 136: To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention has been drawn to the Irish Anaphylaxis Campaign; if her attention has further been drawn to the serious implications for persons affected by the condition; the way in which her Department could provide assistance; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38576/05]

Photo of Mary HarneyMary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
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The Irish Anaphylaxis Campaign is based in Dublin and its purpose is to promote awareness of the needs of persons suffering from various allergies. Allergic reactions occur in response to a wide variety of environmental factors including chemicals, foods and pharmaceutical preparations and can manifest themselves in a variety of ways such as skin rashes, gastrointestinal abnormalities, etc. These allergic reactions can occasionally be so severe as to lead to serious illness and death. Some of the more widely know reactions are to peanuts, fish foods and drugs such as penicillin. This is why in the healthcare setting it is vital that drug allergies are identified, recorded and highlighted on patients charts.

The labelling of foodstuffs is regulated by a series of EU directives which make it obligatory for all food ingredients to be indicated on the label. A particular aim of these directives is to ensure that consumers suffering from food allergies or who wish to avoid eating certain ingredients for any other reason are informed of their presence. There is a specific requirement to mention potential allergens on food labels.

The health promotion unit of my Department has no plans to run a campaign on this topic before the end of the year. Such campaigns will be a matter for the Health Service Executive from January 2006. The provision of services to individuals affected by the condition is the responsibility of the Health Service Executive under the Health Act 2004. Accordingly, my Department has requested the parliamentary affairs division of the executive to arrange to have this matter investigated and to have a reply issued directly to the Deputy.

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