Need your opinions on this one! Peanut policy gone bad...(long)

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 1:06pm
arachide's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/16/2000 - 09:00

We managed to get a school-wide peanut & nut policy implemented at our elementary school last month. Basically it states that foods containing peanuts and/or nuts are not permitted to be consumed at school.

Today it was brought to my attention that this policy isn't good because:

[list=a]
[*]it discriminates against other allergies (exclusionary, in other words)[/*:m]
[*]it invites dispute from those who argue it's their right to eat pb, etc...you all know the arguments[/*:m][/list:o]

These points were presented to me by a rather prominent allergy advocate in our region who successfully runs an allergy committee at a school twice our size.

She advised me that it would be best to amend the policy to reflect all food allergens and that this apply to only those specific areas in the school frequented by said allergic individuals.

I'm having a hard time with this.

Seems awfully complicated to start saying no peanuts in x,y,z classroom but okay in a,b,c classroom, except on Tuesdays when x classroom gets used by group with a pa individual....

Now I'm thinking of proposing that other food allergies be dealt with on a classroom-to-classroom basis, but that peanut & nut still remain school-wide. Still seems discriminatory, no? Why should peanut be more important than milk? Just because no milk allergy parents have been vocal about it?


(Giving as good as you get, eh MB? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] [i]see you coming with that one[/i])

I've got a roaring headache thinking this through.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on this guys. I need to present any modifications/amendments by Thursday night.

Points to note: students eat their lunches in their respective classrooms -there is no cafeteria

the school-wide policy was adopted a month ago, there is no call to change it -just this woman's opinion that it'll lead to trouble down the road

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 2:06pm
Dawn's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/22/1999 - 09:00

arachide, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
Right now, you are in an enviable position, where you have a [b]school-wide[/b] pnt policy, which the school has agreed to, in place. Maybe there will be problems. But maybe you'll create some, too.
For what it's worth, I say stick with what you have and think about changes in the background. Maybe parents of food allergic kids [i]will[/i] step up and say that their child is being excluded. [b]Then[/b] you can include them. And if you've already thought of some ideas, it'll be that much easier. Policies aren't written in stone.
My kids go to a small school. I don't know that a bigger school would be able to handle our situation so [i]personally[/i]. Maybe that allergy advocate is coming from the standpoint of trying to make so many parents happy. Maybe the parents at your school are already happy.
Good luck. I know it's not easy and you've worked so hard. You've done very very well.

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 2:18pm
momjd's picture
Offline
Joined: 02/24/2002 - 09:00

Well as a parent whose child is thus far allergic and/or intolerant to everything (I'm not kidding, he lives on a special formula), I can tell you why I support a peanut/nut ban.
First, it's statistics. I know that my child could anaphylax from wheat, or dairy or soy. But from a pure numbers standpoint, the odds of that happening are miniscule in comparison to the risk posed by peanuts and tree nuts. So, if it's impossible for me to eliminate every single food that might trigger a reaction, I'm going to start with the ones most likely to trigger a reaction.
Second, it's logistics. I've cooked peanut/treenut free. Then I went peanut, treenut, egg free. Then added soy, dairy and wheat. I know which one is hardest. :-) Yes it seems like peanuts are everywhere in processed food, but there are still foods out there than you can make a meal with. I can't imagine telling the school cafeteria that they have to feed every kid in the school without using wheat! Sure, it could happen, but I think at that point they'd be saying 'let us tell you about home bound instruction...' Dairy, maybe they could avoid but what would they substitute? Soy? Peanuts, despite their prevalence are still pretty easy to 'substitute' for in comparison to the other allergens.
Third, the sheer perserverance of the peanut protein puts it in a whole different catagory for me. Maybe I'm wrong but, I don't think milk lingers on a surface for months even with cleaning. I don't perceive it as being as likely to adhere and travel from student to student. Maybe I'm overly optimistic or naive. But I do know in my own household there are only three foods that are absolutely banned - peanuts, tree nuts and shellfish. These three and any 'may contains' are not permitted at all. Eggs I don't cook in the house, dairy I try to limit. But those foods aren't banned so I would be less likely to seek a ban at a school. I would still seek ways to limit exposures to those, just as I do in my own home- but not an all out ban. I should add that I can certainly understand why someone whose child reacts severely to minute traces of those foods would feel differently and would assume that such a circumstance would call for an entirely different approach on the part of the school.
Finally, despite the fact that I personally believe based on past reactions and statistics to the contrary, that eggs, dairy and wheat pose a greater risk to my DS, I would never take away from some other parent the opportunity to reduce the risk to their child's life. So as a parent, I would not be one to say 'well, if you're eliminating peanuts then you have to eliminate dairy for my child', knowing that the result might be that neither is eliminated. That just seems counterproductive to me. Perhaps I'd feel differently if eliminating peanuts wouldn't benefit my DS as well. But I'd like to think that knowing the statistics, I'd be in favor of something that I know would help prevent 80% of anaphylaxis cases even if my own child was more likely to be one of the other 20%.
Again though, if the year after peanuts were banned a child who entered the school was excruciatingly sensitive to dairy, then I would assume that the 'reasonable' approach would be to consider a ban on that food as well. I think this expert advisor is trying to come up with a one size fits all plan for something that was never intended to be treated in that manner. The law requires reasonable accomodation, by it's definition this is a fact specific analysis based on individual circumstances.
Now after that lenghty opinion on schools, I should confess- we intend to homeschool. I really have no intention of asking for a wheat/dairy/egg/soy/barley/peanut/treenut/who knows what else ban and don't care to spend every day worrying about what my kids' being exposed to. ;-)

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 4:47pm
Nutternomore's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/02/2002 - 09:00

Arachide,
MomJD's rationale is right on point.
If needed, you might find it handy to remind fellow Canadians of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology's Position Statement on Anaphylaxis In Schools and Other Child Care Settings
[url="http://csaci.medical.org/schools.html"]http://csaci.medical.org/schools.html[/url]
In the section under Peanut Avoidance, it states, in part...
"In view of the nature of peanut allergies we therefore recommend these strong initiatives to control peanut exposure in the schools be instituted.
1. [b]In the nursery, day care setting and earlier public school grades where there are peanut allergic children no peanuts, peanut butter or peanut containing foods should be allowed, since it is extremely difficult to avoid accidental ingestion.[/b] It should be recognized that this will reduce but not eliminate the risk of accidental exposure.

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 10:36pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by arachide:
[b](Giving as good as you get, eh MB? [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img] [i]see you coming with that one[/i])
[/b]
[i]Who woulda thunk it??[/i] [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/wink.gif[/img]

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 11:02pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by Dawn:
[b]Right now, you are in an enviable position, where you have a [b]school-wide[/b] pnt policy, which the school has agreed to, in place. Maybe there will be problems. But maybe you'll create some, too.
[/b]
*Personally?* I don't want people to envy my child or me. (Even Parents of other Food Allergic Children). IMPHO, it's not conducive to cooperation. I want them to be compassionate and understanding (moral/ethical?). I want them to work with me. Don't know if this will occur if they envy my child. Don't want "pity" either. Compassion, not pity. [img]http://uumor.pair.com/nutalle2/peanutallergy/biggrin.gif[/img]
I wonder if "school agreeing to" = "ability to achieve". (I am assuming achievability is a motivating factor in requesting the accomodation). I could be wrong.
In no way am I saying I *personally* don't understand the [i]desire[/i] to have such policy. Not at all.
Quote:Originally posted by Dawn:
[b]
For what it's worth, I say stick with what you have and think about changes in the background. Maybe parents of food allergic kids [i]will[/i] step up and say that their child is being excluded. [b]Then[/b] you can include them. And if you've already thought of some ideas, it'll be that much easier. Policies aren't written in stone.
[/b]
OOOOOOOOOOOOO. [i]cringe[/i]. As a parent of a [b]PA[/b]/Nuts child(ren), I have encountered this sentiment before and directed at us.

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 11:07pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by momjd:
[b]
Third, the sheer perserverance of the peanut protein puts it in a whole different catagory for me. Maybe I'm wrong but, I don't think milk lingers on a surface for months even with cleaning. I don't perceive it as being as likely to adhere and travel from student to student. [/b]
Wasn't there a child who died from anaphylaxis to milk initiated at school, recently? An older child? If this is indeed the case, I have to picture myself trying to explain this point to that child's parents. [i]cringe[/i].

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 11:10pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by momjd:
[b].
First, it's statistics. I know that my child could anaphylax from wheat, or dairy or soy. But from a pure numbers standpoint, the odds of that happening are miniscule in comparison to the risk posed by peanuts and tree nuts. So, if it's impossible for me to eliminate every single food that might trigger a reaction, I'm going to start with the ones most likely to trigger a reaction.
[/b]
[i]exactly what are the "statistics"?[/i] All Food Allergies Included? I think a while back I posted statistical reference to PCN, (although not a "food" per se).

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 11:11pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by arachide:
[b]
I'm having a hard time with this.
[/b]
I understand.

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 11:16pm
MommaBear's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/23/2002 - 09:00

Quote:Originally posted by momjd:
[b]
Again though, if the year after peanuts were banned a child who entered the school was excruciatingly sensitive to dairy, then I would assume that the 'reasonable' approach would be to consider a ban on that food as well. [/b]
Is this similiar to saying "severe" peanut allergy? As I have heard of schools basing accomodations for [b]PA[/b] on reaction history, for example. Is this necessarily correct?

Posted on: Mon, 11/17/2003 - 11:42pm
arachide's picture
Offline
Joined: 08/16/2000 - 09:00

Dawn, Nutternomore, momjd

Pages

Forum

Click on one of the categories below to see all forum topics.

Peanut Free Store

More Articles

It Is Easy To Buy Peanut Free Chocolate Online

Ask any parent of a child with a potentially life-...

Seeds, such as pumpkin or sunflower, make great peanut or tree nut substitutes in recipes, and roasted soy or garbanzo beans are tasty snacks and...

So many wonderful recipes call for peanut butter. These recipes can still be enjoyed by experimenting with peanut butter replacements.

...

Peanuts and peanut oil are cheap and easy additives to food and other commercial goods. It is surprising (and alarming if you have a...

Those with severe peanut allergies soon learn to look for the 'peanut-free sign' on any packaged food purchase. This is a notation found on a wide...