Food allergy advocacy groups are warning parents and calling for a boycott over an "absolutely disgusting" scene in the latest Peter Rabbit film which "may be disturbing" to young viewers with an allergy.
The children's animated film features a scene in which a character who is allergic to blueberries has the fruit thrown at him, even deliberately into his mouth, triggering anaphylaxis.
Explaining the scene in question, Facebook user Nicole Dre posted on the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation page: "We saw it today and were not prepared for what we saw. McGregor talks about his allergy to blackberries and how it makes his throat close. Peter and the rest of the rabbits attack him by launching fruits and vegetables at him.
"After a good amount of vegetables, they start launching blackberries and specifically aim to get them into his mouth. They do and he goes into anaphylaxis and uses his epi-pen. Peter also talks about how allergies are made up for attention and sympathy. Absolutely disgusting."
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) president Kenneth Mendez wrote a letter to the filmmakers including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Pictures Animation, Columbia Pictures and Animal Logic to inform them of the seriousness of the issue and ask them to refrain from making any similar scenes in future films.
Kids With Food Allergies, part of the AAFA, said in a statement on Facebook: "It is unnecessary for a film to show the characters intentionally attacking another with his food allergen to trigger anaphylaxis. Portraying anaphylaxis as a joke can cause some people to have a cavalier attitude about food allergies which can put kids with food allergies at risk.
"We are asking filmmakers to work with us to raise awareness about the seriousness of food allergies, and help us promote positive attitudes and safe environments for kids with food allergies."
Australian group Global Anaphylaxis Awareness and Inclusivity (Globalaai) created a petition calling for Sony Pictures to apologise for the "irresponsible allergy bullying", and also called for a boycott of the movie.
The petition, which has so far been signed by more than 5,000 people, states: "This mocks the seriousness of allergic disease and is heartbreakingly disrespectful to the families of those that have lost loved ones to anaphylaxis. Furthermore this is a socially irresponsible depiction in a movie aimed at children and based on an iconic and classic children's story.
"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."
Not everyone thought it was a big deal, however. On the Kids With Allergies Facebook page, one user wrote: "For goodness sakes.....I saw this movie tonight with my 10 year old who has a food allergy and not once did the scene in question make me think that the movie needed to be boycotted.....did you all boycott Mrs. Doubtfire?"
Another said: "Boycott if you choose but you are talking about a movie that has a talking rabbit with a jacket and no pants. Key word here Movie .... entertainment. I'm sorry your child has a food allergen. I know it can be terrifying but this is a movie."
Sony Pictures has not yet issued a comment on the issue.