Agency issues recommendations relating to allergies to peanuts, nuts and sesame seeds in air travel

Background

The Agency research is based on independent expertise from allergy experts and consultations on carriers' accommodation policies, guidelines and regulations within Canada and internationally.

This report was developed as a result of a directive from former Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, P.C., M.P., to conduct an inquiry into the issue of passenger allergies to peanuts, nuts and sesame seeds on board aircraft with 30 or more seats on domestic and international flights to and from Canada operated by Canadian and foreign air carriers.

Findings

The experts contracted by the Agency's Inquiry Officer found little to no evidence of a risk of allergic reactions due to inhalation or skin contact with peanuts, nuts or sesame seeds. Only accidental ingestion posed a risk of a serious allergic reaction.

As a result, the Inquiry Officer finds that the following mitigation measures would be the most effective:

  • a buffer zone, consisting of the row in which the allergic passenger sits or the pod-seat;
  • an announcement to other passengers within the buffer zone that they must refrain from eating peanuts, nuts or sesame seeds or foods containing these;
  • not serving meals or snacks containing peanuts, nuts or sesame seeds in the buffer zone;
  • advising passengers who provide advance notification of their allergies that they are expected to take the same precautions they take during their daily living, including carrying their allergy medication, wiping down their seat area and bringing their own food;
  • allowing passengers to wipe down their seating areas;
  • having policies on air carrier websites that inform passengers on how to make arrangements for accommodation and what their responsibilities are; and,
  • training flights crew on signs and symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Next steps

The findings in this report will be used to inform future Agency actions, including through its Regulatory Modernization Initiative. Actions could include the development of standards and guidance material in order to address this issue on a systemic basis.

The Agency will also be reviewing decisions No. 228-AT-A-2011 and No. 134-AT-A-2013. Section 32 of the Canada Transportation Act states that the Agency may review, rescind or vary any decision if there has been a change in the facts or circumstance since the issuance of the decision.

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