Peter Rabbit producers apologise over allergy bullying scene

A character who is allergic to blueberries is pelted with them by a gang of rabbits in the new movie.

Peter Rabbit producers have issued an apology after facing backlash over a scene involving a food allergy.

The character of Tom McGregor (voiced by Domhnall Gleeson), who is the nephew of Peter's enemy Mr. McGregor(Sam Neill), is allergic to blueberries in the new film, and is ambushed by a group of rabbits who proceed to throw blueberries at him. The gang, who are aware of Tom's allergy, even shoot one into his mouth, which results in Tom growing ill and shooting himself in the leg with an EpiPen.

Groups representing allergy sufferers have condemned the scene in the Beatrix Potter adaptation and a #boycottpeterrabbit hashtag was adopted by many Twitter users.

Sony Pictures has now responded to the criticism.

"We sincerely regret not being more aware and sensitive to this issue, and we truly apologise," a statement released by the company reads, with representative’s adding that it was wrong for the filmmakers to include the sketch "even in a cartoonish, slapstick way".

A petition was created by group Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai), a worldwide allergy and anaphylaxis movement, who called on Sony Pictures to be made accountable for the "socially irresponsible depiction" of food allergies which "mocks" the seriousness of the condition.

The petition has so far been signed by almost 10,000 people.

Additionally, charity Kids with Food Allergies Foundation criticised the movie by claiming that "food allergy 'jokes' are harmful to our community" in a post on the organisation's Facebook account, while U.S. group Food Allergy Research & Education also posted a warning to members over the content of the film.

Peter Rabbit was released in U.S. cinemas on Friday (09Feb18) to mixed reviews. James Corden, Sia, and Margot Robbie also lend their vocal talents to the feature.

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