Food allergies talk slated for Friday

An international food allergy specialist will be presenting at a meeting this Friday 19 September at Cayman Prep & High School (Juniors, Smith Road site) at 7pm in the school hall, in which she will be giving an important talk on Food Allergies and Anaphylaxis.

Dr Viviana Sirven of Sirven & Associates – Allergy & Asthma Centre, Florida, has been brought in to speak to interested individuals, especially parents with children who suffer from food allergies.

Arranged by the newly formed Food Allergy Association of the Cayman Islands, the evening promises to highlight some important issues arising from food allergies, especially nut allergies which can cause sufferers to go into anaphylactic shock if nuts are accidentally ingested.

Mrs. Sheena Westerborg, President of the new association says parents will get a good basic knowledge of food allergies as well as an update of what government is doing to protect individuals (especially children) who suffer in this way.

She explains her involvement, ‘As a mother of a child with a peanut and treenut allergies I decided to form a group with similar parents that would be a support group for us. This has developed into Cayman’s Food Allergy Association.’

She continues, ‘Dr Sirven is my son’s pediatrician in Florida who specialises in allergies and asthma. Not only will parents get to hear all the latest information on food allergies at this Friday’s meeting, but they will also get the chance to hear first hand what it is like to live with such a life-threatening condition. For example, Food Allergy Association second Vice President, Mrs. Nicole Ruddick, who suffers from severe allergies to MSG and sulphites, will give an account of how she has had to live with her condition.’

Government representative Mr. Vaughn Carter, Deputy Chief Officer in the Ministry of Education, Business Planning, will also give a talk at the evening explaining how government intends to move forward in this regard. He will discuss a newly formed working group, on which Mrs. Westerborg sits, which will attempt to develop policy for government on the issue.

Mrs. Vicky Girling, first Vice President of the Food Allergy Association will take the opportunity at the meeting to introduce the new body to attendees and explain why it was established.

As a newly declared ‘nut free’ zone, Cayman Prep & High School are pleased to be able to facilitate the evening.

School Vice Principal Mr. Brian Wilson explains, ‘Following the recent admission of young Corey Westerborg into our kindergarten, Cayman Prep School has been happy to work with Mrs. Westerborg on a number of initiatives to ensure the safety of her son. We also decided to use the opportunity to really look at the lunches and snacks that we were offering our students. We formed a nutrition committee earlier this year to look into exactly what we are putting in the mouths of our young people and are now extending the nut ban to certain dyes and food colourings that really are not good for young people to ingest.’

Mr. Wilson says he is making a presentation later this week to other private schools in Cayman to show senior staff members in other schools how Cayman Prep and High School has taken the initiative to be nut free.

Mr. Wilson states, ‘I think it is inevitable in the long run for all schools to consider their policy in this way.’

Everyone is welcome to this Friday’s meeting, which it is hoped will be an informal, informative and interactive event.

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