Parents blast kids TV show nut allergy prank

AN on-screen prank that involved smearing peanut butter on the face of a children's television presenter pretending to have a nut allergy has outraged parents of children suffering from the affliction.

What Now presenter Adam Percival had his face covered in peanut butter during yesterday morning's show on TV2 as part of a segment about allergies.

Despite Percival not being allergic to nuts, the segment drew harsh criticism from parents who labelled it "irresponsible" and feared terrible consequences if children imitated the prank.

One concerned mother said she would lay a complaint with the industry watchdog, the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA).

What Now took to Facebook to defend the segment, saying Percival was safe and the prank was a way to highlight the issue.

"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," said the post.

It had generated more than 60 comments by 6.30 last night.

Dion McCracken, whose son has a serious nut allergy, was not convinced by the explanation.

"Great for Adam. A shame for my son who may now be exposed to kids at school thinking your prank was a great idea," he said.

"If one kid that watched the prank thinks it's funny to smear peanut butter on an allergy kid, there is a very real threat of anaphylaxis and rapid death.

"What Now didn't have ill intent, but they've just taught thousands of Kiwi kids that doing this isn't a big deal. It really is."

Claire Eveleigh said she was going to lay a complaint.

"It's very scary that you are defending yourself on a topic you clearly do not know much about. Not knowing is OK ... but broadcasting on TV about it is not OK ... I will be making a complaint to the BSA about this."

Whitebait-TV, which produces What Now, was unable to be reached for comment last night.

A spokeswoman for TVNZ said if people were offended by the show they could make complaints through the BSA.

Peanut allergies

* 1 in 50 infants are allergic to peanuts.
* It's the most common food allergy.
* Exposure is hard to avoid and in some cases even trace amounts can trigger symptoms.
* Symptoms include: Hives, eczema and vomiting and in serious cases anaphylaxis - breathing difficulties.
* Treatments include: Adrenalin injections are required as soon as possible after exposure but it also recommended that asthma-sufferers keep that condition well controlled to avoid extra complications.

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