An estimated eight million Australians, or 40 percent of the population, suffer from some sort of allergy, according to the National Asthma Council. And that number appears to be on the rise.
Yet getting information on allergies, such as food intolerances, eczema, hay fever and asthma, and finding ways to alleviate them isn’t always easy.
It was an inability to locate resources on his daughter’s allergies which inspired events organiser Dave Whimpey to hold the upcoming Allergy Expo and Gluten Free Food Show at Darling Harbour from 24 to 26 November.
My wife and I struggled to find a better quality of life for our daughter, searching on the internet and looking for publications, Whimpey said.
There’s not really one medium for this type of activity.
When he heard about allergy expos held in Europe and North America he decided it was time Australia had one of its own.
The Sydney expo will be the first large-scale consumer event of its kind in the country, featuring products, services and information to help improve the lives of allergy sufferers.
The expo has the support of the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy, Anaphylaxis Australia, the National Asthma Council and the Eczema Association of Australia.
Whimpey said many large companies were starting to release products specifically for people with allergies. Some of the major brands who will be represented at the expo include Dunlop, Dyson and Planet Ark.
All these companies are producing allergy-friendly products. These are companies seeing there’s a huge incidence of allergies, he said.
Now you can allergy-proof your home with special carpets, air ionisers, water filtration, curtains. Anything you put in your home can be allergy-friendly.
He said he’d been particularly surprised by the level of interest from companies wanting to showcase gluten- and wheat-free products at the expo.
He put this down to the fact it wasn’t only allergy sufferers eating this food, but also the healthy living section of the community who seek alternative products as well.
Aside from the big companies there will also be boutique suppliers producing one-off products, like Willow Confectionery who Whimpey said are doing Australia’s only 100 percent guaranteed peanut trace element-free product.
Just why allergies are increasing in Australia is debatable. That’s the $64 million question, Whimpey said.
Some experts believe it’s environmental, or because of the food we’re eating today. Others say it’s genetic. Possibly it’s a combination.
Whimpey is already planning to take the expo to other capital cities in Australia and has had requests to make it an annual event.
The expo is on from 24 to 26 November at the Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre. Tickets are $15/$12. See www.allergyexpo.com.au for more information.