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 Post subject: Nut "Free"
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 4:08 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 22, 2006 10:26 pm
Posts: 90
Location: Toronto
Hi all. I have been reading some of the comments about making places nut "free" for our little ones and it has me a little concerned (especially when it comes to schools). To say someplace is nut free creates the notion of a guarantee of sorts that no one who is entering the building will be bringing those products onto the premises. Not everyone is as vigilant as many of us are. I have personally encountered many parents with children with allergies who "trust" that others care as much about the health and safety of their children as they do. This notion of "nut free" may create a false sense of security for them and they may let their guard down just for a time ("...they know he is allergic to nuts so they won't give him anything, he is fine"). Lets face it, how many people really read the labels to see if it "may contain" if they do not have a child with an allergy? Yes they may not bring an actual nut, however, many people are not aware that this may include for instance chick peas, pesto, bean salad, etc,. Think of how many people pass through a school for example on any given day - principal, vp, secretary, supply teacher, volunteer, parent, student teacher, caretaker, consultant, visitors, lunch room staff. Is one to believe that these people did not bring a "may contain" product, washed their hands or brushed their teeth after their snacks or meals. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to sound all gloom and doom and think people do it intentionally and I do commend these places for attempting to take these positive steps towards keeping our children safe. However, I just think that the only true place that is guaranteed nut free is our own home...never let your guard down despite what the sign on the door says! Education is key to keeping this ball rolling of allergy aware environments.


 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 12:50 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 03, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 1643
Location: Toronto
My son's school does not allow peanut/nut products. They do allow *may contain*. The intention is not to have a *completely safe* environment for the pa children. The intention is to have a *safer* environment.

If a parent is going to trust that others will be as cautious as they are about what the pa child eats, a ban won't make a difference. Because, the ban is just one of the tools used.

btw, my child is not pa, so this is not a *personal* issue for us.


self: allergy to sesame seeds and peanuts
3 sons each with at least one of the following allergies: peniciilin, sulfa-based antibiotic, latex, insect bites/stings

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 3:50 pm 

Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2006 8:25 pm
Posts: 233
Location: Winnipeg
I've often heard this "false sense of security" argument in relation to peanut/nut bans. On one hand I do agree that just because a school "bans" nuts, doesn't mean that the school will now be a nut free, 100% safe environment. That's impossible.
But I do believe that asking other parents to refrain from sending peanut/nut products to school, will make the school a much safer environment for anaphylactic children. It's all about risk reduction, and a "ban" will reduce the risk of exposure considerably, whether it be for the entire school or just one classroom. Of course things like hand-washing, only eating food from home etc. are still crucial no matter what the school's overall policy is.
I also really dislike how many educators use this "false sense of security" argument to avoid the extra work and potential backlash involved in a "ban". I think it is a worthwhile tool in helping the child to avoid their allergen, if their school community is willing to put in the effort.
For our family, eggs are just as serious a problem anyway (and I've never heard of an egg-free school). Either way, I can't imagine that we could be lulled into being less vigilant about our sons' healths with or without a ban in place.

1 son allergic to eggs, peanuts, green peas, chick peas, lentils and tomatoes
(avoiding tree nuts and most other legumes too)
1 son allergic to eggs, and has outgrown peanuts
Both with many environmental allergies, asthma and eczema

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 8:01 am 
Site Admin

Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6616
Location: Ottawa
I agree that the strategy needs to focus on the reduction of risk of exposure to allergens. To me that means being aware and weighing the likelyhood of the allergen spreading (the smear factor for lack of a better phrase) against the what- need of the general school population to eat peanuts/allergens?
Our daughter has life threatening allergies to milk and egg. In JK we asked to ban all dairy products and egg products. This year we hoped the school would work with the students to teach safe eating habits ei, not sharing utensils or snacks, hand washing, not blowing bubbles in milkcartons or waving straws etc, while banning the milk products with the highest smear factor ei cheese and cheesy crackers. Milk, yoghurt and baked products would have been OK if snacks are supervised (which they assure me they are).
The school chose to ban all snacks with the exception of fruits and vegetables. Next year they eat lunch. I firmly believe that this is the year we need to teach proper food etiquette as these students will be together for the duration of their academic life.
I suppose I should prepare a guideline for a lesson plan on safe eating practices using the safe schools info. It occurs to me now that the school may have no idea what I mean as they are not living my life.

Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy and green beans) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: Oral Allergy Syndrome, Allergic to Birch trees

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Dec 02, 2006 7:10 pm 

Joined: Tue Nov 29, 2005 4:04 pm
Posts: 2044
Location: Gatineau, Quebec
For me, there is no such thing as "allergen-free" - and as the mom of one kid who is very allergic to peanuts and nuts and another who is very allergic to peanuts, nuts, dairy and eggs, I see it this way:

Not having peanuts and nuts in a school or daycare is definitely no guarantee that that place is truly free of peanuts or nuts, but it does at least reduce the risk. It reduces the "smearability factor" that someone else alluded to. So I'm all for not having peanut/nuts allowed in certain areas.

However, my kids are taught to NEVER accept food from anyone other than mom or dad, regardless of whether that place is "allergen-free" or "allergen-aware" or not. And the people who care for my kids are told the same thing: under no circumstances is ANYONE allowed to give ANY FOOD to my kids without my permission.

I agree that even the most well-meaning people might not truly understand what it means to avoid a particular allergen - and on top of that, not all parents of FA kids might be as conservative as I am when it comes to avoidance.

When my kids were younger, "don't eat anything that doesn't come from home" was just the rule. Now that they are a bit older I explain to them that while some people might THINK they know what they're talking about if they say such-and-such is safe, they likely don't realize all that is involved with regards to labelling and might not be aware that not all labelling can be trusted, etc.

I explain to my kids how I have to call about every product we feed them and that there are only certain companies that I trust. So I basically teach them not to trust too many people when it comes to food. And I'm okay with that. For me, it's the lesser of all the evils.

But I do prefer not to have peanuts or nuts in schools. I think people forget that the reason the CSACI started recommending that peanuts/nuts not be permitted in schools with allergic kids is because allergic school children died from exposure to relatively small amounts of their allergen. The recommendation that schools with peanut/nut-allergic kids not permit peanut/nut products was a response to the death of food allergic kids in schools. And I think that reason has sometimes gotten lost in all the debate.

I'm not accusing anyone here of forgetting that - I'm thinking of people who get all bent out of shape about not being able to bring peanut/nut products into schools.


Karen, proud Mom of
- DS1 (12 yrs): allergic to cashews, pistachios, Brazil nuts, potatoes, some legumes, some fish, pumpkin seeds; OAS
- DS2 (1o yrs): ana. to dairy, eggs, peanuts; asthma

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