An Open Letter to Sony : Peter Rabbit Allergy Scene
Dear Sony Pictures Entertainment,
As I am sure you will be aware Allergy UK, the leading national charity for people living with allergy, has expressed our serious concerns about the food allergy sequence in the Peter Rabbit movie which is scheduled for release in the UK on 16 March.
Our concerns have been well documented through print, broadcast and social media in the UK and we are supported in this by our allergic community to whom we provide support and advice to help them deal with the day to day challenges of living with allergic disease. We estimate that 21 million people in the UK live with allergy.
Living with a food allergy brings its own particular challenges. Eating or being exposed to a food to which a person is allergic can cause death and for children and their parents the fear and anxiety that a child might suffer anaphylaxis has a significant and negative impact on quality of life.
Turning to the film sequence, our main concern is around the appropriateness of a scene in which the idea of throwing food at someone with a food allergy, in order to make them ill, is presented to children as humorous. Sadly, we are aware of a recent incident in a school where this form of bullying has reportedly caused the death of a young person, as well as other incidents in which an allergic child has been purposefully exposed to the food or substance to which he or she was allergic as a ‘joke’. Young children are impressionable, the idea of ‘bunnies’ throwing food might look like fun and our concern is that they will not (and cannot be expected to) understand the potential dangers of this kind of action.
This charity’s mission is based on raising awareness and understanding of allergic disease across our society. With the number of children with food allergy rising year on year a key target for us is schools where awareness and understanding is crucial for the safety of children with food allergy. Unfortunately we still have a long way to go and we are tackling a high level of ignorance and misunderstanding.
We are aware of your statement and we thank you for it. You have acknowledged publicly that the film ‘should not have made light’ of allergy.
However, we are asking you to take action and remove this sequence from the film.
We would welcome the opportunity to further discuss this issue with you and to provide whatever information you may need about the realities of food allergy and the impact these have on both adults and childrens’ lives.