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Allergy Today From Mark's Desk: Food allergy: Recalls, prosecution, tragedy and legacy

Allergy New Zealand CEO Mark Dixon reflects on the consequences of allergens in food, including increased food recalls, the first prosecution under the new Food Act 2014 and the tragic loss of an Auckland teenager and her legacy.Mark Dixon

There’s never a dull moment in the world of allergies and the past few months have certainly delivered!

Those of you monitoring our Facebook page and website ( will have noticed the huge increase in food recalls issued by MPI over the past year and particularly with regard to dark chocolate very recently. In one of our News Bites, our allergy advisor Penny Jorgensen brings you up to speed on what we know to date and what to do about it.

You will also have noted the first successful prosecution by MPI under the new Food Act (2014). While it is comforting that the new legislation held up to scrutiny and that MPI had the confidence to act, it is a timely reminder that some New Zealand food manufacturers are well behind the standards required by the already five-year-old legislation.

Please contact Allergy New Zealand at if you are unsure how the Food Act (2014) may affect your food manufacture or service business.

A tragic loss and a legacyEdyn Rubena Misilsi -87-866-794

Our local media have picked up on the increasing number and frequency of allergic incidents locally and globally. Unfortunately, with the epidemic rise of allergies, it is inevitable that while diagnoses are increasing, so are extreme allergic reactions – some with tragic circumstances.

Edyn Rubena Misilsi was an exceptional 16-year-old student of Auckland Girls Grammar School and Manurewa High School. Identified by teachers as a leader among her peers and a talented musician, she was a friend to many and an inspiration to fellow students, teachers, staff and whānau.

Edyn tragically died in November last year due to accidental exposure to a food allergen that she was anaphylactic to.

Because of Edyn’s capacity for care and the strength and love of her parents, Bonita and Morris, we are able to support them in making sure that Edyn’s legacy of youth leadership will live on in her name. A Māori and Pasifika Food Allergy Support Group has been set up on Facebook in her honour. Both Bonita and Morris are determined to ensure that others do not endure what they have and are actively promoting allergy education in their Māori and Pacifica communities and in our mainstream media (video story).

Please get behind these initiatives in Edyn’s name. Keep up with allergy support activities that are planned in Edyn’s memory on both our website and Facebook as well as Edyn’s Instagram account, #4Edyn.

Edyn: You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered.

Your support matters

Our call for New Zealand’s allergy community to ignite conversations around allergies has never been so keenly felt.

The wider New Zealand community needs to understand the growth and severity of allergic disease in this country and how it impacts families who live with it every day.

We need your support! Your contribution does not need to be financial – we appreciate any and all acts of kindness, whether that be through:

  • sharing our resources with your friends, families, local school or community group
  • donating your time to raising awareness in your school/community/workplace
  • sharing the name of an influential contact or supportive business (with their permission!).

We appreciate all support, so please get in touch at

Allergy Awareness Week

Our focus for the first half of 2019 will be on the lead-up to Allergy Awareness Week (AAW), Sunday 12 May to Saturday 18 May.

Schools from across the country will be invited to participate in activities aimed at educating our community and igniting allergy conversations. We will have resources (activity suggestions, quizzes, videos and worksheets) available on our website for teachers and parents to use from Monday 25 March 2019.

If you’re a parent interested in initiating allergy awareness during AAW, use the template letter to contact your school now and encourage them to include Allergy Awareness Week in their May 2019 school planning. Download the template letter here.

Mark Dixon Allergy New Zealand CEO

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March 2019