Found OPEN jar of PB at \"nut-free\" music studio

Posted on: Sat, 07/05/2008 - 4:14am
BohemianBrunette's picture
Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09

Hey all,

I recently got hired to teach clarinet lessons at a brand-new music studio in town, and I just finished the training for the summer day camp word as to when I'll actually be needed, but here's hoping.

Anyway, the woman who runs the studio talks a big talk about peanut allergy awareness, which is all well and good, but it's not actually enforced all that well. The summer camp brochures stipulate that campers must bring a nut-free lunch each day, and the little snack bar only sells peanut-free snacks (except Ritz Bits sandwiches with cheese, which I'm pretty sure are a "may contain"), but the other day, I saw a partially used jar of peanut butter in the kitchen cabinet, along with some other basic snack items--crackers, jam, etc. Now, I don't know if this is the beginnings of an "emergency stash" for kids who forget their lunches for camp, or if it's just there, but the fact that the peanut butter had been opened raised some alarm bells. The woman in charge takes everyone who signs up for lessons or camp on a tour of the studio, but of course that doesn't include the insides of the kitchen cupboards.

Anyway, I know that some people's comfort zones might be different than others, but my question here is, if anyone here signed their peanut-allergic child up for a day camp or school or after-school program or whatever that was ostensibly "nut free," but then discovered a partially-used jar of peanut butter tucked away in a cupboard somewhere, would that be a problem? Would it warrant talking to the person in charge, or even pulling your child out of the school/camp/whatever?

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 2:28am
Lindensmom's picture
Joined: 09/21/2007 - 09:00

umm...yeah! That would be a huge problem for me. Of course the first thing I would do is talk to the director. If camper have to bring a peanut free lunch, why is PB being used as an emergency lunch or snack item? All kinds of things are potentially contaminated - the knives, the jam (big time), cutting boards and may be a solvable problem, but I would be very angry to discover that I was basically being lied to about the condition and safety of my child's environment. That's the biggest red flag for me - the director tells people it's a peanut free environment when it isn't, so that PA parents can't take the proper precautions within their comfort zones.

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 3:41am
Krusty Krab's picture
Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

Something along these lines might do:
"I'm certain the camp with it's fabulous peanut allergy awareness angle, had [i]no[/i] idea that peanut butter was currently on site. You'll certainly throw out the jar of peanut butter that is in the cupboard, right? I can't imagaine how that happened, thank you for taking care of it, for the safety of your students."

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 5:10am
BohemianBrunette's picture
Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09

Thanks, guys. I'm actually not allergic to peanuts myself (I'm not even that severely allergic to almonds either, they just give me a rash if I eat them), but I think I'll take a "middle of the road" approach here. If I encounter any current or potential music-studio attendees (day campers, private students, whatever), then I'll tell them the truth, and I'll have them speak to the director (not in an accusatory manner, just in a "how do we come up with a solution together so that little Joey can come to day camp in a safe environment?" kind of way). On the one hand, I think it's wrong to lie to parents about the studio being peanut-free when it isn't, but on the other hand, I don't want to rock the boat too much--I'm sort of in limbo there, since I've been hired, I'm on the staff roster and the website, but I don't actually have any students yet, and the director has yet to tell me if/when she'll need me for the day camp. Whenever I've asked, she's just said "it depends on enrollment." So, I'm afraid that if I make a fuss (when it isn't even MY battle to fight), then she'll make sure that I never have any students.

Posted on: Mon, 07/07/2008 - 12:49pm
Krusty Krab's picture
Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

Aside from having a responsibility to other unknowing humans, [i]children even[/i], about something that could kill them, if you don't say anything at all, then you have just put yourself into the same category as the boss--knowing about it, and doing nothing.
Not wanting to rock the boat isn't an option in my opinion. Pointing out a serious safety hazard to the boss is not rocking the boat. [i]It's the right thing to do.[/i] Or else why would you have posted with such concern?
I would speak first and foremost to your employer. If they throw out the PB, then you have advocated for others and avoided going behind the backs of your employers and gossiping about the behind the scenes goings-ons. KWIM? Start at the top.
Good luck.

Posted on: Tue, 07/08/2008 - 12:50pm
SkyMom's picture
Joined: 10/27/2001 - 09:00

Have to agree with Krusty again. It is my hope that anyone who knows about fa's would make a statement to protect others with fa no matter what the situation. The ramifications of not saying anything are too great.

Posted on: Thu, 07/10/2008 - 4:06pm
Janet76's picture
Joined: 02/13/2008 - 08:09

Hi - just a little note - the RITZ bits sandwiches with cheese is a stable in my home. And there is no warning listed. I did call them cuz of the peanut butter ones and they asured me there are no issues with them.
And I would most likely pull my kid out if they didnt get rid of the peanut butter. You cant say nut free then not be. Even lets say they get rid of the pb, i dont know that i could still trust them after that.

Posted on: Sun, 07/13/2008 - 8:22am
BohemianBrunette's picture
Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09 looks like the majority has spoken. I'm going to be at the music studio on Tuesday evening for something else, and if the HR person is there at the time, and not busy, I'll say something about the peanut butter then.....or maybe I'll e-mail her before then.

Posted on: Mon, 07/14/2008 - 3:51am
Krusty Krab's picture
Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

Ritz Bits Cracker Sandwiches Cheese
Size: 7.5 oz
Upc: 4400001931
emphasis mine.
NO guarantees here. I know they have been unsafe in the past, if you are avoiding 'manufactured on shared equipment' items. For me, I'd call again, [i]several times even[/i]. Customer service reps often give differing answers. I'd ask specifically about this product being on a [i]dedicated line[/i].

Posted on: Mon, 07/14/2008 - 4:58am
BohemianBrunette's picture
Joined: 02/13/2008 - 19:09

Hey all,
Time for an update. I e-mailed the HR lady at the music studio last night, and told her that A) I'd dropped off my police record check (negative, in case anyone here is wondering, lol), and B) I'd found an open jar of peanut butter in the kitchen cupboards, which I was sure that SHE hadn't put there, someone else must have left it and forgotten about it, but either way, it should probably be thrown out. Anyway, she wrote me back today, and said that despite the nut-free-lunch rule for the day camp, and the fact that there's a student with a severe peanut allergy who takes guitar lessons on Tuesdays during the school year (he's taking the summer off, though, and there are no allergic students/campers there at the moment), they "don't advertise as being nut-free" because there's "too much liability," but they "encourage" it, and they "heighten awareness when there's an affected student." I have a problem with this, for the following reasons:
1. It's hypocritical to say you "encourage" a nut-free environment, while keeping peanut butter in the kitchen, where anyone could walk in, pour themselves a glass of water or whatever, and be exposed to Goddess knows what. Also, when I was doing the staff training program there, I made sure not to bring any peanut or nut products for lunch, even though it was inconvenient. Yes, it would have been easier for me to slap together a PBJ in five minutes and be done with it, but I didn't, because I respect other people's safety.
2. It's not practical to *only* heighten awareness when there's an affected student there. Let's say that during the first week of day camp, there are no allergic campers, but then the second week, a PA child comes to camp/music lessons/whatever, and is exposed to nut residue that was missed in the clean-up from the first week? There's a lot of stuff that's shared there--piano keyboards, drum sets, furniture, toys, board games, writing implements, craft supplies, you name it.
3. Saying "please bring a nut-free lunch" is implicitly saying that the music studio is a nut-free environment, and it isn't....but it'd be SO easy for students/campers and their parents to believe that it is. So, by not being upfront about it, the HR lady is tacitly lying. Be nut-free or don't, but either way, make it clear which way you're going.
4. Going back to the police check thing.....HR lady talks a big talk about safety and whatnot, and doesn't want the "wrong" people working with the kids, hence the police checks. And yet, she's so lax about something that could kill some kids. Replace "peanut butter" with "loaded gun," and it'd be a serious issue, but since peanut butter is a legitimate food item for most people, and only deadly to some, it's NOT taken seriously. Why is it okay for her to be so crazy about not wanting US to endanger the lives of the children (I had to pay $20 for a police check that I *knew* would come back negative, and that's the STUDENT price), when she does it without even thinking about it?

Posted on: Mon, 07/14/2008 - 10:51am
Krusty Krab's picture
Joined: 04/20/2007 - 09:00

OK, so it's a nut-free [i]lunch [/i]rule.
Kudos to you for speaking up. And I suppose at this point, if I felt so inclined, I'd be mentioning to parents that while lunches are required to be nut-free, the program/building itself is not. (wink wink)
Of course, I believe most parents of children with contact issues will likely already have ascertained that point already.


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