Important Notice Regarding Food Allergies and the Federal Government Shutdown

Since the shutdown of the federal government earlier this week, FARE has been investigating the ways in which the shutdown may impact government services or initiatives related to food allergies. While much is uncertain during this time, we want to provide the community with the information we have gathered thus far, and we will continue to inform you of any new developments. Please be advised of the following important notices regarding federal government shutdown:

USDA and FDA Food Recalls Due to Undeclared Allergens
Updated 10/10/2013
FARE has reached out to multiple contacts at both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to determine if their food recalls and recall notification systems are being affected by the shutdown. These undeclared allergen recall notifications provide potentially life-saving information to our community.

The information we have at this time indicates that many of the staff who are responsible for processing and distributing recall notices have been furloughed. Recalls are delayed in distribution, and are being released in a limited capacity.

FARE has reached out to more than a dozen major food industry organizations and manufacturers asking them to contact FARE directly with any allergy recall alerts so that we can continue our service of notifying the community via email and social media.

Access to USDA Medical Statement Form
Parents requesting special meals, accommodations and milk substitutions for school lunches are required to fill out a form and submit it to a school nurse or other administrative staff. This form is typically accessed through the USDA’s website, which is currently inaccessible. Parents or schools in need of this form can access it here: Special Dietary Needs Request.

Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
For families relying on services from WIC for specialty formula and foods, it is important to know that federal funds for this program have been halted due to the shutdown. Most states are continuing to fund current WIC participants and honor WIC vouchers; however, some states indicate they only have funds to continue doing this for a short period of time, so recipients may soon stop receiving benefits. If you are a current WIC participant, please reach out to your state WIC program.

Status of S. 1503 – The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act
The School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act, which encourages states to adopt laws requiring schools to have “stock” epinephrine auto-injectors, was due for consideration before the Senate Health, Education, Labor  & Pensions Committee on October 2. However, because of reduced staffing the review was postponed until further notice. Please continue to write to your Senators to encourage them to co-sponsor the bill by visiting the FARE Action Center.

Government-Funded Clinical Trials
Most FARE-funded clinical trials do not receive government funding, so they are unaffected by the shutdown. Existing trials that are funded by the National Institutes of Health, including studies that are co-funded by FARE, are ongoing. However, these trials are limited in their ability to recruit new patients.