An Australian allergy awareness group is calling for Sony Pictures to apologise for its depiction of "blatant food allergy bullying" in the upcoming film Peter Rabbit.
- The film includes a scene where a character is intentionally attacked with allergen, causing anaphylaxis
- Organisations call it 'socially irresponsible', want Sony Pictures to apologise
- Authorities say making light of serious allergies could be harmful to community
The film was released in the US last week and according to America's Kids With Food Allergies Foundation (KFA), it includes a scene where a character is intentionally attacked with his allergen, which leads to anaphylaxis.
Australian group Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai) has created a petition asking Sony Pictures to apologise, saying the scene is socially irresponsible.
"This mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those that have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis," the petition reads.
"To spread a message that condones such victimising and dangerous behaviour amongst children is grossly offensive to worldwide viewers, especially those who live with severe allergic disease."
The hashtag #boycottpeterrabbit has also kicked off on social media.
According to the National Allergy Strategy, allergic diseases are among the fastest-growing chronic conditions in Australia — affecting one in five people.
Globalaai is encouraging parents to talk to their children about the scene and the seriousness of food allergies.
"Given that this movie is aimed at children, to see a character being intentionally attacked with the allergen that they're allergic to has been really disturbing worldwide, not only for the allergy community but also for parents," Globalaai founder Dr Pooja Newman said.
"We have a serious problem in our community with a lack of understanding and a lack of appreciation that allergies can be instantaneously life threatening and many children have died all over the world from accidental exposure to food allergens."
"Unfortunately, I believe the Peter Rabbit movie is sending a message that food allergies are not necessarily to be taken seriously and that food allergy bullying is something that is OK."
Dr Newman said she has been encouraged by the response the petition has received.
Sony Pictures have not responded to the petition.
Authorities warn not to joke about serious allergies
KFA said jokes about food allergies could be harmful to the community.
"During a reaction, patients require the life-saving drug epinephrine and must go to the nearest hospital for follow-up treatment," it said.
KFA said the fear and anxiety experienced during an allergic reaction is very serious.
"Making light of this condition hurts our members because it encourages the public not to take the risk of allergic reactions seriously, and this cavalier attitude may make them act in ways that could put an allergic person in danger," it said.
Sony Pictures has been contacted for comment.