The popular ABC network sitcom “Modern Family” showcased food allergies in it’s latest episode, “Arrested.” It takes a skilled writer to make a serious food allergy reaction comical. I believe they succeeded, and helped to further awareness of food allergies. However, they missed a critical step in the process by omitting the use of epinephrine which should always be present during a serious food allergy reaction.
Watch “Arrested” here
When Cam makes breakfast for his teenage niece and younger nephew, he tries out a soy bacon recipe to hopefully get a positive reaction to this healthy alternative. He gets a curious look from his niece while his nephew chomps away on the bacon loving it. “This is the best bacon I ever had,” says his nephew, Luke. As soon as Cam tells them that it is not real bacon, but “faken” and it is made entirely out of soy. Luke starts coughing and itching his throat. His niece says,”Luke is allergic to soy. His throat closes and he can’t breathe!” She is describing an anaphylactic reaction. These are the most severe type of reactions a food allergic person can have. This type of reaction can occur rapidly and can lead to death without the proper emergency medication being given immediately. As soon as a food allergic person knows that they have ingested their allergen and are at risk for anaphylactic shock, they need to be injected with epinephrine. This life saving medication is clearly missing here. In the episode, the reaction happens at Luke’s home. It is highly likely that there would be an epinephrine injector available since they are given by prescription to food allergic individuals with severe reactions. Since Luke’s older sister knew about enough about his allergy to explain his possible symptoms to her uncle, it would have been easy to write in that she got the epinephrine injector out to use on Luke. Even my 7 year old non-allergic child knows this is the first step in a severe reaction due to the fact that her siblings have severe food allergies.
Whether Cam or his niece used the epinephrine injector on Luke, the rest of the episode could have proceeded as planned. You still have to follow the injection up with a trip to the emergency room. They still treat you quickly and with caution. There still is that level of panic. The fact that they left out the most important step in a food allergy reaction is upsetting. Children and adults have died due to not having had the epinephrine shot immediately after their reaction. This is an important step to recovery, like giving CPR to a person that has stopped breathing. It would have been a huge step for food allergy awareness if they would have just included this medication in the episode.
I applaud “Modern Family” for tackling the topic of food allergies in their sitcom. Since they have a character with a severe food allergy now, I hope that future episodes address it more accurately. The use of epinephrine in these situations is imperative and will save lives.
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