It's no secret that some food allergies can be life-threatening. Even a whiff of peanuts could be dangerous to eight-year-old Maren O'Connell, who's allergic to them. "It gives me hives and gets me really really sick," she said. But there's no consensus on how these allergies should be handled.
Even young children living with a food allergy must be vigilant about checking the ingredients before they eat. Even at school, Maren't expected to protect herself. Chris O'connell, Maren's father, explained “ "She takes the initiative to check snacks in school with her peers.” If she notices someone eating peanuts, she tells her teacher, who tells the student to wait until lunch rather than eating it around Maren.
Texas legislators are currently considering a bill to create statewide food allergy guidelines to better protect Maren and other children suffering from food allergies. There are currently no uniform rules regarding food allergies, says WFAA TV (http://www.wfaa.com/news/local/Texas-lawmakers-consider-bill-to-protect-allergy-sufferers-117272723.html). The Food Allergy Bill, officially known as SB 27 and HB 639, would establish an expert panel to create a comprehensive approach to handling food allergies.
Dr. Drew Bird, director of the Children's Medical Center food allergy center, said "A lot of schools have their own written protocols for how to handle food allergy.” According to one estimate, one in 20 school-age children has a food allergy. Yet many of these students are not allowed to carry an EpiPen at school, even though the device could save their life during an allergic reaction. If passed, the Food Allergy Bill would enable Texas to create statewide standards for how to handle food allergies.