This January Harper's article on food allergies isn't available online–Harper's articles generally aren't, because the magazine is hand-scribed with quill pens on parchment scrolls–but it's damn good:
Of little concern to most parents or educators, only a generation ago, food allergies are now seen as a childhood epidemic. The American Academy of Pediatrics recently began recommending that peanuts be withheld until a child turns three; hundreds of food allergy nonprofits and local parents groups have formed; and six states have passed laws requiring food allergy measures in their schools, with similar legislation currently being considered in Congress. But the rash of fatal food allergies is mostly myth, a cultural hysteria cooked up with a few key ingredients: fearful parents in an age of increased anxiety, sensationalist news coverage, and a coterie of well-placed advocates whose dubious science has fed the frenzy.
One of the first and most influential of the food allergy nonprofits, [the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network], has successfully passed off as fact its message that food allergies have become more prevalent and dire. Since 2005, more than 400 news stories have used FAAN's estimates that allergic reactions to food send 30,000 Americans to emergency rooms each year and that 150 to 200 ultimately die….The CDC, in its most up-to-date figures, recorded only 12 deaths from food allergies in all of 2004. When asked about these statistical discrepancies, FANN founder and CEO Anne Munoz-Furlong said focusing on any numbers misses the point: "One child dying from food allergies is too many."
FAAN, as Meredith Broussard reports, accepts donations from the distributor of an adrenaline injector. "Just about all the leading food allergists," she writes, have ties to FAAN or an even more excitable organization called the Food Allergy Initiative.