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I have a dilemma about peanuts. How should we as a society balance the needs of peanut allergy sufferers with the needs of Type As for whom peanuts are a beneficial and inexpensive food?
When DD was a little girl, she did not like much meat, and she did not like cheese. (It amazes me how self aware she was of her nutritional needs as a Type A) Because of that, I packed a peanut butter sandwich in her lunch almost every day. I thought she would eventually get tired of it. I certainly desire more variety than that. But DD never did. She is now 22 years old and she still eats a peanut butter sandwich for one meal almost every day.
I have a vivid memory of her coming home from school one day with a paper from health class saying that peanut butter was an unhealthy food. This was shortly after I had started the Blood Type Diet, and it made me furious. We had a talk about protein, and about good fats and bad fats. She was convinced that peanut butter was beneficial for her, but she wanted a good grade in the class. We agreed that if there was a question about peanut butter on a test that she could answer what the teacher had taught, but continue to eat her peanut butter sandwich.
One of my nephews was allergic to peanuts. Eating anything with peanuts or peanut oil could send him into an asthma attack. His mother was very careful with what he ate. And after one time when he ate a peanut butter cookie at the insistence of an uninformed adult, he was very careful about what he ate as well. Eventually he grew out of the allergy. Today he is in his 30s. He has three children and none of them are allergic to peanuts.
However I have a friend whose elementary school son has a peanut allergy that is so violent that the smell of peanuts can send him to the emergency room. He has had attacks on airplanes and in the school cafeteria. His mother is on a campaign to get peanuts outlawed in the school, or to make students with peanut butter sandwiches eat their lunch in a separate room away from the other children.
I don’t see a fair way out of this situation. Her son’s life is at risk. I can’t ignore that. I would support a system where peanut allergy sufferers could declare themselves when they bought their ticket and flight attendants would not serve peanuts on those flights. What to do about school is more complicated. It would certainly be socially damaging for my friend’s son to have to eat his lunch alone in a separate room every day.
Yet it seems equally unfair for a Type A child to be stigmatized and sent to eat their peanut butter sandwich alone. While DD might have had the self confidence to stand up to that kind of pressure. I can easily imagine peer dependent Type A children who would eat more meat and cheese just so they didn’t call attention to themselves. That meat and cheese would be detrimental to their health - just not as rapidly as or as obviously as an allergic reaction.
If any of you have heard of a school that has come up with a wise policy about this issue, I would be interested to hear it.
I know a type A adult who is severely allergic to PB. So obviously not a beneficial food for them.
Kids without allergies are allowed to sit there if there's space at the table, even if they didn't bring nuts for lunch. This way, the kids with allergies are kept safe, but nobody ends up eating lunch alone.
Another school I heard about used to have the kids with allergies eating at a special table; I think my son's school handles it better. This way the kids with allergies aren't singled out; the ones bringing in allergenic foods are separated. But if you have a kid who literally won't eat lunch unless it's peanut butter, that child's needs are also being met.
Meanwhile, the local private Jewish school is completely peanut-free. That certainly keeps the kids with airborne peanut allergies safe, but it limits the lunch options for other kids. I'm not sure how well that would work with a larger school.
Thank you Ruth! I like your school's system. It doesn't isolate anyone, but keeps everyone safe.
You stated "His mother is on a campaign to get peanuts outlawed in the school, or to make students with peanut butter sandwiches eat their lunch in a separate room away from the other children."
I am not trying to get peanut butter sandwiches outlawed in school. I have never asked the school to limit what students bring in their lunches- only what they serve in the lunch line. Also, I have never asked for students who bring peanut butter sandwiches to eat in a separate room. My son currently eats in a separate room (with one friend and an assistant) everyday. He ate at a peanut-free table, but had 6 reactions anyway, so his physicians agreed that he cannot be in the room with peanut butter.
Texas has new school food allergy guidelines (published May 21, 2012): http://www.foodallergy.org/files/TX_SB27guidelinesFINAL.pdf
Environmental controls to be considered include:
Identifying high-risk areas in the school and implementing ...strategies to limit exposure to food allergens and implementing general risk reduction strategies throughout the school and at school-sponsored activities. Children at risk for anaphylaxis should not be excluded from the classroom activities based on their food allergies.
Limiting, reducing, and/or eliminating food from classroom(s) and other learning environments used by children with food allergies at risk for anaphylaxis.
Notifying and educating school staff and parents of the need to limit foods as needed on the campus, in the classroom, or at school sponsored activities.
Developing procedures for the management of parent-provided classroom snacks as allowed by Texas statute, with consideration given to students with food allergies at-risk of anaphylaxis.
Implementing appropriate cleaning protocols in the school, with special attention to identified high-risk
Providing training to the school food service department to reduce the risk of cross-contamination during food preparation and food service, as well as minimizing foods served in the cafeteria that may contain food allergens.
Providing training on food allergy awareness to teachers, staff, and parents.
Posting of visual reminders promoting food allergy awareness.
Educating children about not trading or sharing food, snacks, drinks, or utensils.
Implementing hand washing protocols before and after meals. (Hand washing should be done with soap and water, as hand sanitizers are not sufficient for removing allergens.)
Assign staff trained in the administration of epinephrine as monitors in the food service area, as appropriate.
Provide ready access to epinephrine in an accessible, secure but unlocked area.
Consider risk reduction strategies for the school bus, during extracurricular activities, on field trips, during before-and after school activities, and at sporting events.
Reinforce rules and expectations about bullying, including bullying of students with food allergies.
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