‘Peter Rabbit’ creators sorry they made ‘light’ of food allergies

“Peter Rabbit” powers-that-be hopped into mea culpa mode after a scene in the movie involving a serious food allergy sparked criticism and an online boycott.

In a joint statement with filmmakers, Sony Pictures said that they “sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologize,” AP reported.

In the big-screen adaptation of the Beatrix Potter classic, released Friday, Peter Rabbit’s neighbor Mr. McGregor is allergic to blackberries. No matter, the rabbits hurl the forbidden fruit at the man, who’s forced to use an EpiPen. The movie, praised for its animation, has been criticized for turning bunnies into bullies.

Kids with Food Allergies, a children’s organization, posted a “heads-up alert” on Facebook for parents so they could have an “opportunity to discuss food allergy bullying and ‘jokes’ with their child before seeing the movie,” they noted. They added that the post “immediately went viral.” Twitter users started using the hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit.

In addition, Kenneth Mendez, the president and CEO of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, wrote an open letter stating that “jokes about food allergies can put people in danger.”

Most common food allergies to be aware of
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Most common food allergies to be aware of

Peanuts and peanut products

(Photo via Shutterstock)

Tree nuts

(Photo by Jeremy Woodhouse via Getty Images)

Cow's milk

(Photo by Igor Skrynnikov via Getty Images)


(Photo by Andrew Unangst via Getty Images)


(Photo by Roger Dixon via Getty Images)


(Photo by Vlad Fishman via Getty Images)


(Photo by Lew Robertson via Getty Images)


(Photo by Alexandra Grablewski via Getty Images)


Many people, actually.

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, including about 6 million children under age 18. That’s 1 in 13 children, or roughly two in every classroom, according to the group Food Allergy Research & Education.

Mendez urged the brains behind the film to “examine your portrayal of bullying in your films geared toward a young audience.”

The scene raises troubling echoes of an incident in January in which three Pennsylvania teenagers were charged with intentionally exposing a school classmate with a severe pineapple allergy to the fruit.

“Food allergies and are a serious issue” and the film “should not have made light” of them “even in a cartoonish, slapstick way,” the movie’s creators said.

Allergy-Safe Lunchbox Ideas
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Allergy-Safe Lunchbox Ideas

Ground Turkey Tacos

Allergy: Fish; Alternative: Ground Turkey Tacos

Fish is a ubiquitous allergy-inducer, thus canned tuna probably shouldn't be a lunchbox go-to. A great replacement is lean ground turkey, which you can stuff into just about anything. Saute it in the skillet with some paprika, garlic, and bell peppers and it makes the perfect taco filling for a festive Mexican bite.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto

Chicken Salad

Allergy: Eggs; Alternative: Greek Yogurt

The common chicken salad is filling but can be threatening because of egg allergies. That familiar creamy consistency that comes from mayonnaise can be found in the form of egg-free Greek yogurt. Rich and smooth, the substitute will go undetected by your child and gives them a healthy alternative to mayonnaise.

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Tofu Egg Salad

Allergy: Eggs; Alternative: Avocado and Tofu
Make your grandmas classic egg salad just as you normally would, but replace the main ingredient with luscious avocado, to replace the rich yoke, and firm tofu chunks, which will stand in for the egg whites. With a vibrant color and a satisfying texture that could compete with the original, this substitute may just become a classic of its own.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto

Pudding Slushie

Allergy: Chocolate; Alternative: All-Natural Fruit Pudding Slushie

Whether the allergy is to milk or cocoa, chocolate is a no-go. And one must admit that pudding is not the most healthful snack to stuff in the lunch bag. This fruity slushie replacement has just as much sweet satisfaction, but is free of added sugars and is 100 percent natural. Just freeze what you've whipped up the night before and pack it the day of. By lunchtime, this frozen treat will have melted into perfect slurping slush.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto

Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Allergy: Wheat; Alternative: Rice Cakes

A sandwich without bread? That's right. Wheat contains the protein gluten, which is essential to classic bread-making, but it also can cause serious stomach upset if sensitive, and it is not missed in this crunchy creation. For a twist on the classic ham and cheese, layer those two between two airy rice cakes and bind them together with a healthy schmear of jam. A little bit sweet, a little bit crispy, and it's a lot of satisfaction between two healthy cakes.

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Margherita Pizza

Allergy: Milk; Alternative: Goat Cheese (for a cow's milk allergy) and Soy Cheese (for a milk allergy)

No child should be deprived of the well-liked margherita pie. Skip the overprocessed, pre-packaged lunch options we often see these days and enjoy creating a personal pan pizza for the cows-milk sensitive calves in your keep. Use ready-made dough, and slather tomato sauce and creamy goat cheese on it. Top with basil for an eye-pleasing effect. If your kid is 100 percent lactose intolerant, use soy cheese instead of goat. It melts just as well and they'll never know the difference.

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Trail Mix

Allergy: Nuts; Alternative: Seeds and Roasted Chickpeas

The downfall of store-bought trail mix is that is usually has at least one variety of nut. So what to do if your kid is allergic? That crispy crunch can be recreated with a variety of seeds and roasted chickpeas, the latter actually a bean that when roasted, has a nutty bite.

Credit: Hemera Technologies


Allergy: Wheat; Alternative: Eggplant

Many kids are allergic to wheat or gluten. Most pasta, an ingredient with endless creative possibilities, unfortunately falls into this category. But here is a clever trick for adapting the comforting classic lasagna. Instead of layering the ricotta cheese and meat sauce between pasta sheets, use long strips of raw eggplant to divide the tiers. They will bake well in the oven and they provide the perfect pasta-like support.

Credit: Eising

Banana Bread

Allergy: Wheat; Alternative: Quinoa Flour

For those with wheat allergies, there are a variety of gluten-free flour options for baking, so there is no reason the smell of baking banana bread should not permeate your kitchen, nor make it into to the lunchbox. Quite simply, quinoa is key for this. A gluten-free whole grain, its flour form is easily found in most health-food stores, and even larger supermarkets with a natural/organic section. I assure you that your banana bread has never been so powerfully packed with protein and nutrients.

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Allergy: Milk; Alternative: Orange Juice

Who doesn't love a warm, thick bowl of belly-filling oatmeal? Usually, the child with the milk allergy, as milk is the most common liquid ingredient used to give those oats a little body. But a brilliant dairy substitute comes in the form of fresh OJ, which adds an all-natural sweetness that will keep your kids awake all school-day long. Strange, you think? Try it and you will never turn back.

Credit: Thinkstock/iStockphoto


Allergy: Corn; Alternative: Millet Meal

The Southern comfort of cornbread soothes the soul, but can cause much discomfort for corn-intolerant kids. Lucky for them, using millet meal instead of cornmeal curbs that health threat. The creamy grain is saturated with magnesium and fiber and will keep your bread moist and rich slice by slice just make sure you pack enough for sharing.

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Hot Dogs with Ketchup

Allergy: Tomatoes; Alternative: Balsamic Vinegar-Maple Syrup Reduction

If you don't have a tomato allergy, you probably didn't know that it was even possible to be allergic to the ubiquitous fruit. But for all of you parents who sadly have to serve your kids hot dogs sans ketchup know all about it. The allergy is usually attributed to the high levels of the salicylate chemical in those bright red globes. Squeeze this instead: Reduce equal parts balsamic vinegar and water on the stove. Once it has thickened, add half that amount of maple syrup and combine. The viscous glaze still has the tartness and sweetness of ketchup, without the additives. This condiment hits it out of the ballpark.

Credit: Jupiter Images


Allergy: Corn; Alternative: Sorghum

If corn is your enemy, then you have just found your new best friend. Meet sorghum. This gluten-free cereal grain can be used for baking, beer-making, and "corn" popping. Treat the raw seeds exactly as you would corn kernels. Place them over heat in a skillet and let science take care of the rest. Dust it with your kids favorite herbs and spices and this air-popped sorghum snack will win over allergic and non-allergic kids alike just in time for recess.

Vegetable Dipper

Allergy: Peanuts; Alternative: Low-Fat Cream Cheese

Sticky, salty peanut butter is an understandably desirable spread for your kids' favorite snacks, but crackers, pretzels, apple slices, and baby carrots will not be disappointed to be dipped in lovely low-fat cream cheese. Make sure you buy the whipped variety for a silky and smooth texture that makes dipping easier. For an extra something special, mix it up with a drizzle of natural honey. With 75 percent less fat and an 100 percent satisfying taste, you can feel confident your child isnt missing a thing.

Credit: Thinkstock/Hemera


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