\'Do not bring nut products into schools\' Australia

Posted on: Fri, 11/04/2005 - 9:07am
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'Do not bring nut products into schools'
JEN COWLEY
Friday, 4 November 2005

Parents in Dubbo have been asked to reconsider the contents of school lunch boxes in the wake of the increasing incidence of peanut allergies in children. St Laurence's Primary School has written to all parents asking that they refrain from including nuts and nut products, especially peanut butter and Nutella, in their child's lunch or recess food items. Macquarie Anglican Grammar School (MAGS) has a school-wide policy that no peanut or nut products be brought to the school. St Laurence's Principal, Carol Stanford, said the request had been "generally well accepted amongst parents". "We were already in the process of instituting the policy before the child enrolled but we have brought that process forward now. "We will have extensive staff training and discussions with parents and children as well as implementing thorough emergency procedures. "The father of the new student will also address a P&F meeting to answer any parents' questions," Ms Stanford said. A Daily Liberal survey of primary schools across the city revealed that St Laurence's is one of two schools to have asked for parental assistance with a "no peanuts" policy. The increasing incidence of anaphylaxis, particularly amongst school-age children, has prompted the State Government to issue a series of guidelines for principals - however the ban on nut products remains at the discretion of each school. While each primary school contacted by the Daily Liberal was aware of the guidelines, the majority said that a total ban on peanut products would be requested only if a severely allergic child were to enrol or be identified. Two schools were considering instituting such a policy and one school had sent a request to parents of those children who shared their classroom with a child whose allergy to nuts is potentially life threatening. President of Anaphylaxis Australia, Maria Said welcomed the schools' moves to minimise the risk posed by nut products. "It is very important, particularly with young children who often share food and are not as diligent with washing their hands, for instance, so it is important that schools enlist the help of all parents in minimising the risk of anaphylaxis. "Parents of allergy sufferers are often dismissed as neurotic or over-protective but even the slightest contact with nut products can be life-threatening to a child with a severe allergy." According to Ms Said, the increasing incidence of nut allergies was attributable to a number of factors. "The allergy is much better diagnosed these days - in the past many allergic reactions were simply attributed to asthma and the like. "Over recent years peanuts and nuts in general have been promoted as a healthy food and encouraged as a good protein source, so we are actually eating a lot more of them. "We are also a much more multi-cultural society now - so we are exposed to a much broader range and type of food than we have ever been, and many of these cuisines contain nuts," she said.

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