Kiwi Kiddie Show ‘What Now’ Under Fire For Peanut Allergy Prank

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By Anne Lu | August 19, 2013 5:27 PM EST

Children’s show “What Now” is under fire for allegedly not taking allergy awareness seriously. The long-time program featured a segment wherein presenter Adam Percival was pretending to have a nut allergy only to have his face covered in peanut butter on Sunday.

During a segment of the TV2 kiddie morning show about allergies, Adam pretended to have a nut allergy while his face was covered in peanut butter.

Some parents of the show’s viewers were outraged with the “irresponsible” segment. Although Adam really didn’t have a nut allergy, his being covered in peanut butter has been deemed dangerous because children might imitate the prank to others who truly have allergic reactions to nuts.

According to the NZ Herald, one mother even threatened to file a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

“What are you doing, What Now? I am the editor of a magazine called Allergy Today and I am appalled at your ‘jokes’ about allergies? Did you know that one in three children in NZ will grow up to have a significant allergy? I invite you to find out more about this. I realise a sense of humour goes a long way, but for too many Kiwi kids, this is no laughing matter,” Paulette Crowley wrote on the show’s official Facebook page.

“My child has enough trouble stopping his friends from putting peanut butter sandwiches in his lunchbox for a joke,” Este Burnett also wrote.

“What Now” defended the segment, telling parents that Adam wasn’t actually harmed because he wasn’t allergic to nuts. The show stressed that it is taking having allergies as a serious issue.

“Hi guys, thanks for watching the show today! A few people have mentioned on Facebook that we didn’t take allergies seriously enough. Our intention is never to make fun of anybody who has allergies, but to make sure we highlight the fact that having an allergy is a serious issue... Adam definitely IS allergic to cats! We hope that by highlighting Adam’s allergy, we are able to spread awareness of the need for other people to deal with them, and provide support for that person,” a message on its Facebook reads.

“Lots of people can be allergic to things: Peanuts, latex, eggs, diary (sic), and much more. People deal with them in different ways: Avoidance, Epi Pens, tablets, etc. For Adam, his way of dealing with his allergy was to protect himself with a bubble, which absolutely worked and thankfully Adam didn’t get ill!”

But there are still parents who are not buying the show’s explanation.

“May I suggest in the future if you want to do an ‘awareness’ show like that, you actually talk to some of the people at the front line and get some advice first?! What you did today is totally irresponsible and conflicts 100% with what families with allergies are trying to educate about. Do some homework next time,” Facebook user Claire Grant replied.

Another user, Dion McCracken, added, “Unforunately my son can’t put a bubble around himself to stop someone smearing peanut butter on him. ‘Pranks’ like this have killed children in many documented instances.

“Way to promote bullying and put the lives of our children at risk. You should be ashamed.”

A spokeswoman for TVNZ told the Herald that people who were offended by the show could make complaints through BSA.

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