Matsui, McHenry, Khanna, and Cline Launch Bipartisan Food Allergy Research Caucus

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 20, 2021 | George Hatamiya (916-201-5412)

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA), along with Representatives Patrick McHenry (R-NC), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Ben Cline (R-VA) launched the first-ever, bipartisan Congressional Food Allergy Research Caucus to educate Members of Congress and the public about the need to expand food allergy research and support the development of therapies and cures. Congresswoman Matsui and Representative McHenry will serve as Chairs of the Caucus, Representatives Khanna and Cline will serve as Vice Chairs.

The Congressional Food Allergy Research Caucus will provide a forum for Members to discuss ways to protect the more than 10 percent of their constituents suffering from food allergies, new ways to treat and prevent the rise of food allergies, as well as provide tools to educate and promote policies to help benefit the food allergy community.

The food allergy community includes 85 million Americans, or roughly one in four people, who avoid consuming or purchasing products containing one of the top nine allergens (milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, fin fish, shellfish, and sesame) either because they are allergic or intolerant to one of these allergens or someone in their household is allergic or intolerant.

The number of food allergic children and adults has more than doubled over the past twenty years, far outpacing population growth, and every three minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. The Caucus will work to increase awareness in Congress about the rise and prevalence of food allergies, and advocate for a greater federal commitment to funding food allergy research.

“Every day, food allergy individuals and families make important decisions to protect the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “When you have a food allergy, navigating life’s daily activities requires a great deal of preparation and vigilance. Along with the passing of the FASTER Act last month, the creation of the Congressional Food Allergy Research Caucus will shine a crucial spotlight on the need for research that will help us better understand, treat, and prevent food allergies. We must treat food allergies as a public health issue — and this Caucus is a significant step towards helping improve the lives of those who are suffering from serious and potentially life-threatening food allergies.”

“Food allergies impact over 32 million Americans, yet we do not know enough about this potentially life-threatening disease,” said Rep. McHenry. “It is important for Congress to understand this issue and help educate others on the need to expand food allergy research while also supporting the development of therapies and cures. I am proud to be a founding member of the Congressional Food Allergy Research Caucus that is dedicated to confronting this important issue and helping the millions of Americans suffering from food allergies.”

“One in 13 children suffer from food allergies, and millions more adults live with unimaginable stress that their child might be subjected to an attack,” said Rep. Khanna. “Proud to be launching the Congressional Food Allergy Caucus with Rep. Matsui to fight for more resources and investment into researching this affliction. Together we will find better treatments and a cure.”

“During my tenure in Congress, I’ve met with several families who have shared tragic stories of loss as the result of dangerous food allergies,” said Rep. Cline. “Their heartbreaking accounts highlight the need to improve health and safety measures for those afflicted, and I am pleased to help raise these issues as the new Vice-Chair of the Food Allergy and Research Caucus. I look forward to helping to educate my colleagues in the House and the public about the need to expand food allergy research and support the development of therapies and cures.”   

“FARE applauds the creation of the Congressional Food Allergy Research Caucus and the leadership of Reps. Matsui, McHenry, Khanna, and Cline,” said FARE President and CEO Lisa Gable. “We look forward to working in partnership with the Caucus to pass laws that benefit our families and increase federal funding to help develop new treatments and ultimately a cure for the more than 85M Americans impacted by food allergy and intolerance.”

“The thirty-two million Americans living with food allergies now have a formal voice in Congress with the launch of the Congressional Food Allergy Research Caucus,” said American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) President Giselle S. Mosnaim, MD, MS, FAAAAI. “The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI) greatly appreciates the long-standing commitment of Representatives Matsui, McHenry, Khanna, and Cline to advance food allergy research and enthusiastically applauds their leadership in forming this congressional caucus to raise awareness and advocate for federal investment related to food allergy research.  AAAAI looks forward to lending our specialized expertise and partnering with the caucus to collaborate on advancing support for food allergy research in the 117th Congress.”

Congresswoman Matsui has been a longtime advocate for the food allergy community. She authored the Food Allergy Safety, Treatment, Education, and Research (FASTER) Act, which was signed into law by President Biden in April 2021. The new law makes sesame the ninth major food allergen recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, requiring sesame to be labeled as an allergen on packaged foods beginning in 2023. The FASTER Act also requires the federal government to issue a report on scientific opportunities in food allergy research with recommendations for how to develop and implement a timely, transparent, evidence-based process and framework for adding emerging allergens to list of major food allergens.

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