Food allergy "joke" on American Idol

In the interest of full disclosure before I open this can of worms, I must say that I don't watch American Idol, nor did I watch last night's episode. Apparently, there was a comment made by Caleb, one of the contestants, about another contestant's peanut allergy that has a lot of people in the food allergy community in an uproar. Based on comments made by people in my circle of food allergy moms and an article on USA Today, it appears that Caleb made a comment joking about putting peanuts in Alex's underwear. Alex has a known peanut allergy. I assume this comment was made in a joking manner and not meant to be malicious or harmful. The comment indicates to me that Caleb is uneducated about the seriousness of food allergies and probably had no idea that this comment could be as harmful as it was when he made it. The issue is that regardless of Caleb's knowledge and intent, the comment is harmful and needs to be addressed.

This was obviously harmful to Alex. Alex undoubtedly knows the seriousness of his own allergy. This comment had to have made him uncomfortable on some level. I don't know the nature of their relationship, or if they joke around a lot like this offscreen, but this comment was made in front of a lot of people, on national television.

This comment was harmful to the many members of American Idol's audience who are also living with food allergies. I can only imagine how many parents had to discuss the comment with their children in their living rooms after it was made.

This comment was made to a young and impressionable audience. My biggest concern is that a largely teenage audience will see that type of joking as acceptable and may even think that it would be okay to carry out such a prank, when such a prank could literally kill someone.

I am not trying to be a square without a sense of humor, but this is very serious subject matter. Bullying is a growing concern in the food allergy community and it is something that all food allergy parents think about often. Food allergy bullying has made big headlines recently:

Allergy bullying: When food is a weapon

Be Aware: The Dangers of Food Allergy Bullying 

Bullied WIth Food: Another Risk For Kids With Food Allergies

The food allergy community is fighting very hard to educate and protect ourselves and the ones we love. Sometimes the harmful effects of food allergy bullying can't be seen on the surface, and what may seem like a harmless joke, can actually have some serious and harmful effects. FARE said it best in their bullying PSA, "It's Not a Joke."

It's unfortunate that this comment was made, but I see it as an opportunity to spread more awareness and education. Food allergies are no joking matter. Period. End of story. If you want to learn more about the seriousness of food allergies, please visit, FARE and FAACT to educate yourself. If you want to do one good deed for the day, share this blog post, the aforementioned links, or other resources or articles of your choosing to help educate others about the seriousness of food allergies. It would be great if American Idol, or Caleb himself, would address the comment to express to the show's audience that such comments aren't okay and that such a prank, if really carried out, could kill. I do hope that through talking about this comment, a few more people become more sensitive to the seriousness of food allergies.

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Posted on March 20, 2014 and filed under News & Awareness.