General Information

General  Information


Press release

 17th June 2013 

HSE childhood food allergy services: an unmet need and major health challenge across the Country, reveals the Irish Food Allergy Network. 

1.2% of school aged children in Co. Louth alone have a proven food allergy but parents have no services –


At the launch of IFAN (the Irish Food Allergy Network) in Dublin today, it has been revealed that parents have little or no services to turn to in their community or hospitals, if their child is affected by food allergy.  IFAN showed that despite a Comhairle na nOispidéal report and recommendation in 2000 for national Immunology services, allergy has not been adequately addressed as a specialty focused on the holistic needs of the allergic child.  Just 2 services for children exist covering Cork and Louth with a very limited service in Dublin, Galway and the Midlands.


There is no cure for food allergy but the treatment is quite simple: identify the hazard, manage the risk and ensure nutritional safety and social inclusion.  The negative impact of childhood food allergy includes serious medical problems and poor quality of life.


IFAN has identified that;

  • In Cork and Louth where a hospital based allergy service is provided for children it is done so because of an existing skill level among hospital doctors that have trained abroad and returned to Ireland.
  • The number of cases presenting are overwhelming with over a 3 year wait for a food challenge and long waiting lists for Community and Paediatric Dietitians.
  • Awareness of food allergy among healthcare staff in the community and hospital is low with little to no education or training provided.


Speaking in advance of the launch Professor Jonathan Hourihane, Chairman of IFAN said “the HSE had until recently never addressed allergy as a specialty, relying on the principle that organ based specialists should manage it in an organ based way.  Food allergy is a very common chronic condition in childhood. It causes great anxiety and distress, with many parents living in mortal fear of the next allergic reaction their child may have. Food allergy is a cheap, low tech ambulatory specialty, in high demand nationwide which is best identified early.  Health care staff working especially in the community are best placed to identify, diagnose and manage cases.  We need to aim to have much greater education, training and support for this in the community.  Allergy aware consultants are needed in regional units, trained, resourced and equipped to manage cases up to and including food challenge”.


IFAN presented its vision for National Allergy Guidelines and Services at the launch of its educational website  The key components are as follows;


To promote an integrated management approach offering diagnosis, management, guidance, advice and support when and where it’s needed for children and families living with allergy, IFAN are launching 3 key resources

1. National best practice guidelines for:

-Diagnosing and managing food allergy in the Community and in Hospitals

-Cows’ milk protein allergy

-Egg allergy

-Peanut allergy

-Tree nut allergy.

IFAN has developed national guidelines based on European best practice providing clear user friendly diagnostic pathways and treatment algorithms for health care professionals to recognize and manage food allergy in the community and hospitals.


2. IFAN will deliver a supportive education programme aimed at health care professionals who encounter children with food allergy. It will be supported by continuous professional development credits and will be free for healthcare professionals to attend, at 14 venues nationally, starting in September 2013.


3. will host the care pathways, details of the supportive education program, references, contributors and more.


IFAN’s strategy meets several standards of care and policy aspirations of DOHC and HSE. It promotes evidence based optimisation of self care through adherence to medically supervised diets, it promotes access to medical care for a child as close to home as possible and it reflects the national hub and spoke model of care which is being built around the Hospital Groups model launched in May 2013 and the NPH development in St. James’ due in 5-7 years.


IFAN aims to audit the effectiveness of these its strategy with the intention of

-improving awareness, recognition and support for allergy in the community.

-aiming to have allergy aware consultants in regional units, trained, resourced and equipped to

manage most cases.

-supporting the recommendations from the 2000 Comhairle na nOspideal report on the need for provision of Immunology services in the Ireland.


The guidelines have been welcomed by Professor Alf Nicholson, Paediatric Clinical Lead of the National Paediatric and Neonatology Clinical program at the HSE.  Endorsement for the guidelines has been received from the Irish Association for Allergy and Immunology, the Irish Nutrition & Dietetic Institute and is being considered by the Irish College of General

Practice and the Irish Society for Community and Public Health Medicine.


IFAN represents multi professional collaboration between health care staff, parents and patient advocates from all over Ireland.

This launch is an awareness campaign that seeks to raise awareness and understanding of issues relating to childhood allergy in the community and hospitals.

For further information please see






Participants needed for Food Allergy Research Study      -         AlleRiC – Allergic Reactions in the Community

AlleRiC – Allergic Reactions in the Community – is part of the iFAAM (Integrated Approaches to Food Allergen and Allergy Risk Management) project - the world’s biggest ever study of food allergies.

The iFAAM project is being led the University of Manchester and will involve leading food allergy experts from Europe the US and Australia.


Up to 20 million European citizens suffer from food allergy. However management of both food allergy, by patients and health practitioners, and allergens, by industry, is thwarted by lack of evidence to either prevent food allergy developing or protect adequately those who are already allergic.  iFAAM will produce a standardised management process for companies involved in food manufacturing. It will also develop tools designed to enforce these regulations and produce evidence-based knowledge to inform new health advice on nutrition for pregnant women, babies and allergy sufferers.

Anaphylaxis Ireland’s role

Anaphylaxis Ireland is participating in the project with a leading food allergy research team from University College Cork. We will be working with the UCC team to develop an on-line app, AlleRiC which will be used to record information about Allergic Reactions in the Community.

 As a starting point for this project we are currently recruiting participants for focus groups, which will be facilitated by Dr. Audrey Dunn Galvin, Dept. of Applied Psychology, University College Cork.

The focus group participants will be asked questions about their experience of food allergy.

The aim of the focus groups is to create a questionnaire; the questionnaire will then be used to develop the AlleRiC app.

The first focus groups will be held in Cork on May 18th and in Dublin on the 8th of June. The focus groups will be for food allergic individuals who are:

a)      children and teens aged between 8 and 16 years;

b)      teens aged between 17 and 18 years;

c)      adults from age 18 +

d)     parents of children and teens aged 8-16 years

e)     parents of children under 8 years


Each focus group will consist of between 12 – 15 participants and will last no longer than an hour.

If you are interested in participating or would like further information please contact us by emailing or call Anaphylaxis Ireland at 0818 300 238.

Please include a telephone no. to enable us to contact you

We can provide a subsidy of up to €20 per participant to help cover travel costs.


We will update this page as the project progresses – we will be also be recruiting participants for later stages of the project







Adrenaline Auto Injectors
Reference Books & Videos
Cookery Books
Airlines & Travel tips

Adrenaline Auto-injectors

There are two major types of adrenaline auto-injectors available to people living in the Republic of Ireland, who are at risk from Anaphylaxis. These are:

  • The Anapen
  • The Jext

Adrenaline auto-injectors are only available on prescription. The process for ordering either the Anapen or the Jext is to firstly to obtain a prescription from your doctor/allergy specialist. The pens can then be ordered through any pharmacy.

An important piece of practical advice is to order all of your pens at one time. This has two important advantages. Firstly, if you order all of your pens at one time, the total cost of the pens above the normal threshold can be recovered under the Drugs Refund Scheme. The  current threshold in 2013  is €144 per month. Secondly, if you order all of the pens at the same time, it should be possible to ensure that they have the same expiry date. In this way you can order an entire fresh new set prior to the next expiry date and not be exposed to the risk that the particular pen you use is out of date.

However it is important to check that the pens supplied by the pharmacist have not used up any significant portion of their useful life when buying new pens from a pharmacy.

Trainer Pens

The manufacturers of both the Jext and the Anapen also supply “trainer pens”. These are dummy pens that look like the real thing and are a very useful training aid. These trainer pens are the most effective way to educate non medical people in how to administer adrenaline in an emergency.  Allergic individuals or their carers should also ensure that they are completely familiar with and comfortable with using their autoinjector, by practising with the trainer pen on a regular basis. Anaphylaxis Ireland recommends that everyone should get hold of one of these trainer pens. Trainer pens can be ordered through your pharmacist in the same way as the real pens.

Administering an Anapen Autoinjector

The following website offers further information on the Anapen autoinjector and includes a short video on how to administer the Anapen autoinjector


Administering a Jext Autoinjector

For further information on the Jext autoinjector and information on how to administer the Jext autoinjector, please go to  the following website





Reference books

Set out below is a list of useful books including some recent publications on allergies and related subjects.



Enjoying Life with a Severe Food Allergy
by Tanya Wright  2nd Edition
Publishers: Blackwell

Allergy-Free Cookbook
by Alice Sherwood 2007
Publishers: DK Publishing

How to Cook for Food Allergies
by Lucinda Bruce Gardyne   2008

Food Allergy & your Child
By Alice Willitts & Deborah Carter
Publishers: Class Health

Could it be an allergy?
By Dr Joe Fitzgibbon
Publishers: Gill and MacMillan, Dublin

A comprehensive guide to allergic symptoms. This book is written for the layperson . Each section includes case histories, questions and answers on the particular allergy and advice.

Allergy-Free Living

By Dr Peter Howarth and Anita Reid
Publishers: Mitchell Beazley

Exposure to allergens such as house-dust-mites, domestic pets and moulds induces inflammation in many cases and can explain the cause and persistence of allergic disease. This book offers a thorough strategy for removing allergens in your home and daily life.

The Complete Guide to Food Allergy and Intolerance
By Dr Jonathan Brostoff and Linda Gamlin
Publishers: Bloomsbury, London

Living with Nut Allergies
By Karen Evennett
Publishers: Sheldon Press

Easy to read and packed with information. The book covers symptoms, what happens inside the body during a reaction, food labelling, eating out, allergy testing, treatment for allergies, risk management and many other issues.

Letting go
Produced by the UK Anaphylaxis Campaign

This free booklet shows parents how to teach their children to manage their allergies. It is full of helpful tips and information. For a free copy of this booklet, send a stamped addressed A5 envelope and a brief covering note to: Anaphylaxis Campaign (Letting Go), PO Box 275, Farnborough, Hampshire GU14 6SX, England.

Children’s books:

The diary of Cyril the Squirrel

By Lucy Warn

Coming to terms with a life-threatening condition is difficult for allergic children. But now they have an ally…Cyril the Squirrel. ‘The Diary of Cyril the Squirrel’ was written to help children aged three to seven adopt a healthy attitude to nut allergy.
Available through the UK Anaphylaxis Campaign – To order by credit card, call 00 44 1252 542029. Or send them an email requesting an order form: Include your name and address.


Action for Anaphylaxis

A training video for carers of allergic children produced by the UK Anaphylaxis Campaign

People who care for allergic children – parents, teachers, school nurses and pre-school staff, for example – sometimes find information hard to come by. The Anaphylaxis Campaign in the UK has produced ‘Action for Anaphylaxis’ -a 25-minute training video that meets this need. The film provides detailed information about treatment including the administering of adrenaline.

Particular attention has been paid to schools, but the video’s messages will prove relevant wherever there are people with life-threatening allergies. The language has been kept straightforward and is easily understood by parents, teachers and others who have no medical background.

Available through the UK Anaphylaxis Campaign – contact them at
The New Kid
A video for children with food allergy produced by the UK Anaphylaxis Campaign.

Seven-year-old Jack is new in town. He also has peanut allergy. When Jack is invited to Rosie’s party he has to deal with his allergy and win over the local bully, Ben. Luckily, Cyril the Squirrel is on hand to help guide him through the day and win over Ben and his friends.

This video is aimed at children aged 5-9 years with a food allergy. In a very entertaining way, using child actors, a clown, and an animated version of Cyril the Squirrel, it aims to educate them, reassure them and show that they are no different from other children. It’s ideal for use at home or in the school classroom, and children will want to play it again and again.

To order by credit card, call 00 44 1252 542029. Or send the Anaphylaxis Campaign in the UK an email requesting an order form: Include your name and address.


Allergy Friendly Cookbooks

Cooking for someone with multiple food allergies can sometimes leave you short of ideas; particularly when ingredients that you have been using for years are suddenly off the menu. Here are some books that may help spark that new meal or snack idea:

* Cooking Without by Barbara Cousins. Recipes free from added gluten, sugar, dairy products, yeast, salt and saturated fats.

* Friendly Food by Royal Prince Alfred Hospital Allergy Unit. Avoiding allergies, additives and problem chemicals. Published by Murdoch Books.

* The Stamp Collection by Terence Stamp and Elizabeth Buxton. Terence Stamp suffers from food allergies, as does Elizabeth Buxton’s daughter. There are recipes free from wheat, dairy, salt and sugar.

* Easy Vegan Cooking by Leah Leneman. Great for those allergic to dairy and eggs. Contains a chocolate cake recipe that any chocoholic would devour with glee.

* The Cranks Recipe Book, Cranks Restaurants. A vegetarian book with lots of Vegan recipes for those allergic to dairy and eggs.




Airlines and Travel Tips

When travelling, always take your own food no matter how long or short the journey may be. It is always better to have food that you prepared yourself, rather than put your trust in catering companies who may accidentally put nuts in the ingredients, or fail to supply you with your “special meal” request. Bring a little bit more when travelling on international flights as delays can happen.

It is a good idea to have a test trial run of the food you plan to take with you, a couple of days before you fly. If you are in an overseas country trying new food brands, it is best to try them on land first, rather than for the first time on a plane.

Call the airline before you fly and ask them to send you the acceptable cabin baggage sizes. The last thing you want, is to be told that the bag containing your food is too large to take on-board.

For long-haul flights: if you prefer hot food, you can bring some cup o’ soups or foods that require boiling water to heat up. Again, make sure that they are products that you know are safe to eat. You can ask the staff to supply boiling water. Other alternatives could include foods prepared by you/your parents the day before that can be eaten cold eg: pasta/rice dishes, fruit and sandwiches.

Bring your own cutlery. It minimises the risk of contamination. Pack the cutlery at the top of your bag in case of security checks. Do not bring sharp knives or objects. Standard kitchen cutlery is acceptable.

Try to board the plane before other passengers allowing you extra time to wipe down your/your child’s table and arm rests.

Notify the staff on-board of your/your child’s allergy. They will be aware that you/your child may need medical attention.

Ensure that you bring your medication, including your adrenaline autoinjectors on board with you. If you are travelling with others ensure that one of your travelling companions knows how to use the autoinjector before you travel. You should also carry a letter from your doctor indicating that you need to carry the medication with you.

Sit on the plane where the air is likely to be the cleanest. When you are checking-in, ask whether the flight is full or empty. If it is empty, request a seat away from other passengers. An aisle seat gives you extra room. After all, you have an extra bag with your food, which can be awkward if you are squashed against the window.

Try to travel early in the morning rather than late at night. There is more of a chance of passengers eating peanuts with an alcoholic drink on an evening flight

At your destination:
If you are staying in a hotel, check with the reception upon arrival about the location of the nearest hospital. Ask if they have an in-house doctor and local phone numbers required in case of an emergency. It may be good to take the time out to include a test run to the hospital (if close by) for reassurance.

Don’t leave home without it:
Get a small wallet size laminated card before you leave for your trip. The card could include medical emergency steps to take in the event of a reaction. You can ask your Doctor or Allergist for advice as to what content to include. You can also get a card laminated with a list of all the hidden ingredients you/your child need to watch out for. This card can be given to a waitress or chef to use as a guide when preparing food for you or your child.
If you need the cards in another language, contact the relevant Embassies or Consulates and find out about getting the information translated. Contact Us to obtain further information about translated cards.

Bring phone numbers and details of Anaphylaxis Support Groups from around the world with you. Contact the relevant group upon arrival and ask them to update you on any recent product recalls or label alerts. Don’t forget to bring the contact details of F.A.C.T.S with you. You may need them.

Wear an S.O.S Bracelet or necklace. You and your family may know you have allergies. If you have your S.O.S bracelet/necklace others will know too.

Get your Doctor/Allergist to write a permission letter for you/your child’s medication. It may be illegal in other countries. It is always good to have a medical letter for customs if requested.

Don’t travel without medical insurance and more importantly,

for more information on airline policy and travel tips click here




Swine Flu Vaccine November 2009

As each person’s allergy profile is unique, and as there are 2 suppliers of the vaccine, it is important that each person seeks the advice of their own G.P. regarding the suitability of the vaccination in their own particular case.

Please see below paragraph regarding egg allergy and the swine flu vaccination as per Professor Hourihane, Professor of Pediatrics & Child Health CUH, Cork:

“Allergist advise that all egg allergic children, except the most severe, could receive either vaccine.  However the Celvapan vaccine is egg free and is being preferred for egg allergic children, who need no extra precautions to receive it.  I understand it is being offered in the HSE run clinics in health centres etc but not by GP led clinics.  I suggest you find out where your nearest such clinic is and go ahead with this important immunization”


(February 2011)




Immunotherapy Caution July 2010

Jonathan O’B Hourihane, Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health, Cork University Hospital has supplied us with the following editorial for circulation.

Immunotherapy Caution Editorial





The information in this site should not be considered in any way whatsoever as medical advice or opinion.  Readers must consult with their own doctor to deal directly with their specific circumstances.  Products mentioned are not endorsed and are referred to solely as a matter of convenience to the reader.