It’s time for back to school. Each year on social media and in the news, letters and stories are posted showing school nut bans. Each year, I cringe when I see these letters; I even wrote my own letter which many have seen on this blog.
I have been VERY clear and will remain very vocal about this issue of schools creating blanket nut bans. Schools need to stop thinking that nuts are the only foods that can cause anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis does not discriminate between a peanut and an egg or milk. If a person is allergic to an item, it doesn’t matter. All allergies should be managed the same way. Equal policies must be applied to anyone with a food allergy; meaning if you ban nuts, you better be ready to ban any other food allergen. The management for any food allergy is the same. By focusing only on nuts, we have marginalized the potential severity. I personally have seen people say the following, which is NOT true.
“Peanuts are much more dangerous than other allergens.” Nope, anaphylaxis does not discriminate foods!
“Well, the other allergens are not sticky or oily like peanut butter.” NOT TRUE! Oil from pizza, cream cheese, powdered cheese dust that sticks to fingers, even Mayo for egg allergies and let’s not forget sunbutter –yup, same issue.
“Well most kids outgrow milk and egg, so it’s not a big deal.” While many kids do, they are not outgrowing it at the same rate as before, and even by age 16 many are still allergic. So NOPE.
“Well nuts are the more popular allergen.” Actually, milk and egg are the most common allergens. But it really shouldn’t matter.
“Milk doesn’t cause anaphylaxis.” Yep tell that one to any parent who has had to have their kid hospitalized after milk anaphylaxis.
“But nuts are airborne.” Okay this one, ugh. First, ask any allergists and they will tell you it is extremely rare, not that it can’t happen but it’s not a common as some would lead you to believe. In addition, what nobody talks about is that any food can be airborne. It really depends on a few different factors. For example, are they crushing nuts? Are they heating up nuts? Fyi, the same goes for any other allergen–cooking /steaming milk, cooking fish or egg… all can cause the same issue. And powders like, peanut powder, powdered cheese, and wheat flour can also cause respiratory reactions. So, if that is the concern, then yet again the concern needs to apply to ALL allergens not just one.
“It’s a start.” Yeah… no it’s really not. I’ve been at this game a long-time! People, if it was a start, we shouldn’t be where we are now. We are in the same place for other allergens that we were in 15 years ago! Just my examples above show how little progress has been made for non-peanut and nut food allergies
So to those who have written and said I am angry, or that my message is not being delivered, or that I am one-upping allergens, or that I am anti-nut, I will tell you it’s none of the above. I am sick and tired of my concerns for my children’s food allergies and children like them not being heard. I am sick and tired of peanuts and nuts being the only allergies that are known about I am tired of seeing peanut pictures for every story about food allergies. I am tired of classes getting letters about peanut/nut free rooms and kids with dairy, egg, sesame, citrus, strawberry and other allergens not being included on that list. I am tired of having to fight the statements listed above, because people have been given inaccurate information. I don’t like to see kids with other food allergies forced to limit their own diet further, when nobody is going to remove their allergens. I don’t like to see kids with other food allergies being overlooked and excluded.
So as long as this keeps happening, I and a few others will keep speaking up, because every child with food allergies should have equal rights and be included, no matter what food allergy. Every child with food allergies should have people just as concerned about their allergen as people are about peanuts and nuts. THE SAME RULES needed to manage a peanut allergy are needed to manage every other food allergy.
EDUCATE, SPEAK UP.