Is food allergy a legal disability and how does this affect Canadian schools?


Source: AllerGen Network News

In the Canadian legal context, food allergy is considered a disability that must be accommodated by schools. However, food bans are not legally required, according to the conclusions of a new AllerGen study published in Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology.

AllerGen investigator Prof. Timothy Caulfield (University of Alberta) led the research, which analyzed legislation, human rights policies and relevant precedents in case law, and identified instances where Canadian courts clearly determined that food allergy was a disability.

“Since food allergy is a disability, it triggers a legal duty for schools to ensure that food-allergic students receive fair treatment and are not discriminated against due to an allergy,” explains Professor Caulfield.

“Despite this duty to accommodate, our research also found that in most relevant human rights cases concerning banning food allergens, it was concluded that such bans are not legally required."

The researchers further state that there is no need for one definitive model to deal with food allergies, and that "the best policy advice for schools looking to craft sensible, effective, and rights-sensitive policies around food allergies is to consider the particular context of their own setting, as well as the best available scientific research on best practices for food allergy safety and management."

AllerGen press release  |  ResearchSKETCH lay summary