Allergy scene has parents boycotting 'Peter Rabbit' film

 edition.cnn.com  2/12/2018 7:04:28 PM 
  • Some parents are boycotting "Peter Rabbit" over what they call "food allergy bullying"
  • Sony Pictures has apologized, stating that "food allergies are a serious issue"

The uproar began with a bundle of blackberries.

Allergy bullying: When food is a weapon
"For them to mock something so serious is irresponsible and dangerous," said Dr. Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist at NYU Langone Medical Center and an allergist with the nonprofit Allergy & Asthma Network.

Parikh added that there have been real-life cases in which school bullies have used food allergies to threaten and harm other children.

"This is very dangerous and anxiety-provoking, as deaths occur when food allergies are not taken seriously," she said.

Sony Pictures and the filmmakers of "Peter Rabbit" have released a statement in response.

"Food allergies are a serious issue. Our film should not have made light of Peter Rabbit's arch nemesis, Mr. McGregor, being allergic to blackberries, even in a cartoonish, slapstick way. We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize," the statement said.

What food allergies are costing families -- and the economy
The Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, a division of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, was one of the first groups to raise concerns about "Peter Rabbit."
In a Facebook post on Friday, the foundation issued a "warning" to parents about the blackberries scene: "Parents should be aware of this before your children see the movie so you can talk with your child(ren) about it."
On Saturday, the kids' foundation and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America wrote a letter to the makers of the film, saying the scene suggests that food allergies are "made up for attention."
Where do allergies come from?

The letter went on to encourage Sony to examine its portrayal of bullying in films geared toward children and to refrain from mocking food allergies in the future.

"We would welcome the opportunity to educate your company and the cast of the movie about the realities of food allergy so that they and your viewing audience can better understand and recognize the gravity of the disease. We would like to work together to promote positive attitudes and safe environments for those with disabilities such as food allergies," the letter said.

Also on Saturday, the Australian-based allergy and anaphylaxis charity group Globalaai launched a Change.org petition demanding an apology from Sony Pictures for depicting "allergy bullying" in the Peter Rabbit movie.

All families should be aware of how serious and potentially life-threatening food allergies can be, Parikh said.

"Precautions should be taken around people who suffer from food allergies, as it can cost them their life," she said.

"Emergency medications such as epinephrine should always be carried, and currently, a mainstay of treatment is avoidance of the food," she said. "It is important we fight the stigma around food allergies and not alienate or endanger those who are at risk."

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