Kindergartner Expelled For Illegal PB and J

May 21st, 2010

No one knows why peanut allergies are on the rise, but they are.  As a result, every party invite, classroom activity and school picnic lunch seems to come with a stern warning regarding unsafe food items containing peanut products as well as the operating manual for an EpiPen. At a recent school board meeting in my small town, one discussion revolved around peanuts and how deadly they can be. An administrator had been told by the parents of a child with peanut allergies that if their child was even touched by a hand that had recently been in contact with peanut butter – their child could DIE!

That’s right!

DEATH by peanut butter hand!

How come Agatha Christie never used this in one of her books?

I guess because no one was allergic to peanut butter back then!

So the board had to decide if it was okay to risk the death of a student (by peanut butter hand) or if they should just make all forms of peanut butter in the school completely and totally against the rules. There would be no more snack items containing peanuts. No more PB and J on the lunch menu but most importantly no child would be allowed to pack a peanut butter sandwich in their lunch box from home.

And if you were caught packin?

You’re Outta Here!

The board decided to wait to make a decision until more facts could be gathered. They needed a few peanut butter pie charts and some more intel from the peanut gallery before they made PB and J a criminal offense.

Of course allergies can be very serious and even fatal and I have no problem with taking some precautions to keep children safe.

But really?

Outlawing peanut butter for everyone in the entire school?

Fortunately, it turns out that there is no such thing as death by peanut butter hand.

A child with severe peanut allergies will only experience a rash even if they brush up against a classmate that has been completely coated from head to toe in peanut butter.  Kids with peanut allergies also do not die if they smell peanut butter.  Smelling peanut butter is perfectly okay for everyone! Just don’t stick your nose into the peanut butter and don’t lick the spoon and put it back in the jar!  Because GROSS!   

So what do you think? How far should a school go to keep kids safe from allergic reactions?

Should certain foods be barred from the lunch room because a few kids are allergic to them?

Is anyone else craving a peanut butter sandwich now?  

How about a peanut butter smell?  

What’s your favorite brand?  

Smooth or crunchy?  

Off to make a PB and J,

(smooth Jif, with blackberry jelly on whole wheat)

Rechelle

Comments

  • Rainy:

    wow thats my favorite kind too! (smooth Jif, with blackberry jelly on whole wheat) and it has to be eaten with a cold glass of milk, oh and make sure the peanut butter is really thick!

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    If PB and J were banned from school, either my children would be expelled, or would starve and die. Therefore peanut butter should be required in school to save 3 educated lives.

    I’m all for making REASONABLE accommodations when the concern is valid. But death by peanut butter hand is not valid, and banning peanut products for the whole school is not reasonable.

    Dillon’s grind-your-own peanut butter, mother-in-law’s wild plum jelly, whole wheat. Followed by a bag of Skit-Tells (my hubby just finished watching that- tears in his eyes laughing.)

  • I think NYC public schools got rid of peanut butter a while back. Both my boys are old enough to go out to lunch now so they can eat all the peanut butter they like.
    We’re a mixed peanut butter home. We have both smooth and crunchy with some Nutella thrown in for a lil variety. For me it’s all about the crunchy Skippy with strawberry preserves on crunchy whole wheat bread.

  • jamoody:

    The smell of peanut butter makes me nauseous. I’m not allergic, but freak out as if I were. My son couldn’t have pb&j sandwiches until he was old enough to make them himself. And, I come unglued when he makes a sandwich and doesn’t clean the knife good….nothing worse than doing some dishes and pulling the dishrag out loaded with peanut butter! YUCK!!!

  • susan:

    I love the smooth Jif with strawberry preserves but it absolutely has to be on squishy white bread. I keep some Wonder bread in the freezer just for that purpose. Don’t like my pb on hard bread and I don’t like it warm. Makes me gringe just thinking of it.

  • Pam:

    The school my kids went to had a separate peanut ostracization lunch table. They made allergic kids wear a big letter “P” on their clothes and sit by themselves so the other kids could watch them eat their non nut product lunches. It’s better if they stick (heehee, no pun intended) with their own kind. Just kidding!! This whole peanut allergy thing baffles me. My kids’ school did make the allergy kids sit in their own nut-free zone. I don’t know what the answer is, but banning peanut products for the whole school is ridiculous. My kids would have starved without peanut butter. But I was lazy and made my kids buy hot lunch.

  • Not sure which is more toxic any more, a PB&J sandwich or a Texas textbook. EFH

  • Christine from Canada:

    Honestly? This is a subject that gets my blood boiling. Allow me to vent:

    My kids are at university now, but when they were in elementary (and high school, no less!) there was a strict ban on peanut butter. My kids eat peanut butter. It is a staple in our home.

    How many kids had a peanut allergy in their school of 300?

    Five (only two of whom were confirmed; the other three were the offspring of hysterical parents).

    These five kids were separated from the rest of the population at lunchtime. They had their own peanut-free classroom.

    But, guess what? Despite this, the remaining 295 kids STILL couldn’t bring any peanut products to school. If they DID, then they were sent to the office to be given a talking to and made to feel bad, and a note was sent home with them.

    And there were epi-pens EVERYWHERE: in the office, with the custodial staff, in the children’s homerooms, in the kids’ own backpacks. Every teacher and volunteer was shown how to use one.

    You know what ELSE works really well if there’s someone with a peanut allergy in a school? Um….how about EDUCATING students and staff about what can happen if there’s an allergic reaction, how to avoid a reaction, proper hygiene if eating peanuts — while the allergic person learns how to live in the real world?

    I was always curious to know how these same kids fared, oh, going to the mall and holding the escalator bannister, or accepting change from a cashier, or turning doorknobs, or renting DVDs and books. I mean, you can’t ban peanuts from the general public.

    (Harumph! I cede the soapbox.)

  • The school district that I teach in actually had a situation like this a few years ago. Once student, who had been home schooled, moved into the district and the parents wanted to put the child in the elementary school. From what we were told he was extremely allergic to peanuts. The food service department had to change all of their menus and clean out the kitchen so that no sign of anything with peanuts existed. They even had to throw out any pans or serving utensils that were used to serve items in the past that had peanuts in it. letters were sent home, saying that nothing with peanuts or peanut butter could come to school. Students were told that if they had anything with peanuts before school that they had to wash their hands and brush their teeth extremely well before coming to school. How do you police such a thing, eventually the parents decided to go back to homeschooling the youngster in question. Many of us questioned whether it was fair or right to put one child’s needs over another. I know that there are many young children that will not eat anything but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

    Everyone was very happy when the entire situation blew over

  • I can see the schools offering peanut alternatives on the menu (as in they can’t just have PB&J as the entree one day). And I wouldn’t mind the notes sent home informing parents not to send peanut treats for the whole class. It shouldn’t be hard to be considerate of others. But banning PB outright is a shame. (And hey! No kissing after PB consumption! Oh, that’s right, they ought not to be doing that anyway…ha.)

    I’m partial to Adams Organic Crunchy (my peanut butter best only contain peanuts and salt), Thimbleberry Jam from here: http://www.societystjohn.com/store/ (I don’t care how nutso religious they are, their preserves are to die for), and homemade whole wheat bread.

    Dagnabbit. Now I’m hungry. And it’s only 9:45am.

  • Kay in KCMO:

    I hate PB&J. Yes, I’m a freak. I love me some smooth Jiff (and only Jiff) on 100 per cent whole grain with…wait for it…bread and butter pickles. My brother picked it up from a guy in his unit in Vietnam and when he came home he had our mom try it who then passed it on to me.

    Do kids grow out of peanut allergies? And if so how would they know?

  • Brian:

    I guess I’m old school. Skippy smooth with Smuckers grape jelly on white bread. Just like when I was a kid. And, it must be accompanied by Old Dutch potato chips and a cold glass of milk. Now I’m hungry!

  • Abby Spice:

    I’ll be honest, I love the idea of peanut allergies (we all saw this, right? http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/health/research/12allergies.html). I hate peanuts/peanut butter, always have. Everyone thinks I’m a FREAK, like, that’s the one thing that apparently EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD LOVES OMG. But if I say I’m allergic, they’re just kind and sympathetic…I actually met ONE other person who hates peanuts, and she does the very same thing. Yeah, we’re kind of terrible people.

  • Abby Spice:
  • I’m with Susan, smooth Jif with strawberry preserves on white. With lays chips and milk preferably.

  • km:

    Our daycare was nut free. All nuts (edible). So a lot of granola bars, pesto sauce, snack bars etc. gone! Tons of stuff have nuts in them. If there was a warning label that said made where there are nuts you couldn’t do it. It was horrible !!!
    The elementary schools here are peanut free, we used to have peanut segregation tables but no more. We also have no food celebrations period.
    On our swim team there is an informal protocol whereby if our team’s really bad peanut allergy kid is swimming the session there’s no PB and J. But we all love that kid so we don’t mind. Also we don’t go to Five Guys for a burger after if he’s with us. Again informal. Same kid got welts on his forehead when playing tball when a peanut eating kid passed him a batting helmet to wear. Poor little guy.
    Our Little Leagues now don’t allow any food whatsoever in the dugouts. Yes, you read that right. I pulled my kid out of the league. We ran from school to a game because they start them at 4.45 (my kids get home off the bus at 4.15?) and the kid would still be chowing down on a sandwich. Illegal !!! I thought it was nonsense.
    There’s a lot of allergies now that I suspect are food sensitivities ie a bit of a scratchy throat or a redness from juice. One eejit in my kids class claims to be allergic to kiwi hair. So now instead of sending a kiwi to eat boiled egg style (lop off the top and scoop) I’m expected to peel the damn thing and put it in a container. Sorry, kiwi hair??????? How do you even find that out.
    Reminds me of the lactose intolerance bit from Chris Rock.

  • Samantha:

    Nothing but the natural stuff for me and mine, the kind you have to stir and mix. Love it on celery, graham crackers and of course bread especially toasted bread!

    I think they should get their FACTS straight on things before they go banning food that the general population can have. And let common sense decide how dangerous these allergies actually are and what precautions need to be taken.

    And yes I’m hungry for a PB and J (natural organic with strawberry preserves on wheat) now!

  • Laura Stultz:

    Whole wheat bread, Jif peanut butter, strawberry jam and sliced bananas. Yummy!

  • Love Jif crunchy, but we only keep creamy in the house. My fave sandwich is peanut butter and banana on wheat toast, with a smattering of honey in there for good measure. NOM!

    My Dad used to but that horrific Goober stuff that was peanut butter and jelly mashed together in the same jar. BLASPHEMY!!!

    In college, when I was broke and also had no money, my girlfriend’s mother, who worked in a school cafeteria, gave me a 20lb. institutional-sized can of no-name crunchy peanut butter. I lived on that for several weeks. Thansks, Dianne!

  • Another Lee:

    Well, I’m an ornery (SECULAR! yes, we are reading you) homeschooler and we are also vegetarian, so peanut butter is an essential part of my kids’ diets. My son has a hs friend we see regularly at hs events who is allergic, and I pack non-peanut snacks for those days as a precaution. But only because my youngest still runs around dribbling and grabbing and may cause contact. If it were just my son, he would wash his hands after eating and that would be good enough for the other family.

    Fresh raw peanuts, a little peanut oil, throw it in the Vita-mix and spread on my mom’s homemade sourdough with big globs of organic strawberry preserves. Yum!

    P.S. I’m drinking a Pepsi while I write this – I’m not THAT crunchy!

  • Kathy from NJ:

    I would prefer that PB be allowed and all the sanitizers be banned. I agree with the doctor that we are just too clean and people are not given the chance to develop natural immunities. Back in the dark ages of the ’50′s & ’60′s our mothers kicked us out the door after breakfast, served lunch outside and welcomed us back in the house for supper. We shared lots of germs in the neighborhood and were seldom sick. When one of us was sick with measles, mumps or chicken pox our mothers took us to visit (and get exposed) so that we would all get sick at the same time.

    I buy store brand creamy (tastes exactly the same as Skippy). I like it on rye toast with . . . . butter.

  • Nanc in Ashland:

    Peanut butter from the machine in the bulk food aisle, spread on toasted Jewish Rye from the Apple Cellar (local bakery) with (prepare the EEEWWWWs!) fresh spinach.

  • Jif smooth with Smuckers grape jelly on Wonder white bread. With a cold glass of milk with a ton of Nestle Quik in it. YUM! I think that’s what I might have for dinner.

    My BFF’s hubby works for a school district in our area where they had to set up a separate lunch room at one of the grade schools for all the peanut-allergic kids. There are 10 kids in this one school who are allergic. For class parties, no homemade treats, they have to be store bought, but you have to look at the label to make sure there’s nothing nutty in there.

    At my son’s school, they don’t separate the kids, the ones with allergies just avoid the foods they can’t consume. I think some people make more out of it than what needs to be. My son is lactose intolerant, and if he eats dairy, it can get ugly. He knows what he can eat and what he has to avoid at school. We just deal with it.

  • Anna:

    Peanut allergies are one thing but “pox parties” are quite another, please….immunizations are your friends. I almost lost my eye sight from measles.

  • Dominique:

    I’m the only parent of a kid with a peanut allergy here?

    My kid suffered from peanut allergies for at least three years, until he outgrew them. And I have to say, this is f*&T$ terrifying. It’s not just a rash or itchy throat. His throat could litterally swell up until it closes. And yes of course there are epipens, but these are not a magic thing. You dont just administer it and boom, all is well. The effects of the epipens last for 15-20 minutes, you still have to rush the kid to the hospital, etc.

    I am VERY happy that our daycare is completely nut free. And even thought my son outgrew his allergy, I will gladly abide with any peanut restricition his school puts in place. Young kids, they are not aware of the severity of this and kids sometimes share lunches, dont wash their hands properly, etc. This can be a very dangerous for the kid. I’ll take the extra step to make sure I dont sent nut products in my kids’ lunch if this can make another kid safer.

    The perspective is very different when you are the parent who has to protect a kid with a severe food allergy. Something I wish none of you ever have to experience.

    Dominique

  • jan:

    Yup. HELLO ALL YOU PEANUT LOVERS! My four year old little guy is severely allergic to peanuts. I get to carry an epi-pen everywhere I go, and I get to worry because no one really knows what will happen if he is exposed to peanuts. We like to think he’ll maybe get a little itchy. That would be alright. But then he might die, and that wouldn’t.

    Everyone want to tell me again why your kid can’t eat something else in school? Really they can’t? Every single day they can’t?

    I hear you on the education front. I am trying. Believe me people, I know it is my job to keep him safe. But come on – he is FOUR.

    But do they really have to serve it in the public school every single day? Are we sure that sitting at the sad little peanut table with the mismatched chair is going to keep him safe? Peanut butter is sticky and smeary. It is hard to clean up. And it is exceedingly dangerous to this ridiculously cute little man.

    For goodness sakes people: can’t you give those poor starving kids peanut butter for breakfast and dinner and something else maybe a slice of cheese or {gasp} a vegetable for lunch?

    We sure would appreciate it.

    Chin Up Dominique. I totally got your back. And thanks for the lively conversation Rechelle.

    PS Trader Joe’s sells a worthy substitute sunflower butter for all those who give a crap about keeping these little folks safe. And hey guess what? Our doctor thinks it is your lifestyle i.e., “environmental factors” causing the uptic in food allergies. So huzzah to your processed peanuts in their f’ing plastic jars.

  • I get that Dominique – but peanut butter is a cheap foodstuff that lots of kids like. It seems absurd to me that because of one child’s allergy – everyone has to exist in peanut butter freak out mode. Surely there are better ways to handle this than to ban nuts for everyone. Like I don’t know – educate your kid. Inform the teachers and be careful. But making life weird for everyone else? That’s just bizarre.

  • jan:

    Rechelle? One kid? Really? No. Not really. And when I weigh these kids safety v. your life being “weird” or your kids lunch being a little more creative? I gotta go with safe.

    It looks like a simple matter of IF YOUR KID COULD DIE YOU CARE and if it is somebody else’s kid? F em, eh?

    Sheesh.

  • Dominique:

    Rechelle, my kid is 4! How is he supposed to fully understand how dangerous this can be to him? I educate him all I can, and he knows he cant eat peanut butter, but if a kid offer him a piece of sandwhich, at 4 or 5, I doubt his first reflex will be “WAIT ! IS THIS PEANUT BUTTER?”

    What am I supposed to do with my kid with a severe allergy? Quit my job and therefore lose my house, so I can stay home and homeschool him, just so parents at his school get to keep sending PB sandwhich instead of cheese sandwiches?

    Believe me, I know this suck. I’m on the other end of it :-(

    Dominique

  • Dominique:

    Jan – And when I weigh these kids safety v. your life being “weird” or your kids lunch being a little more creative? I gotta go with safe.

    Exactly.

    A kid dies but it’s ok – no one at schoold got inconvienced and got to keep their PB sandwiches! !! Hurray!

    Our kids, they are people too damnit. Sorry the rest of you have to deal with them.

    D.

  • jan:

    Dominique = my soul sister. Honey. I am with ya. Repeat after me: you may not share other people’s food. You may not eat ANYTHING that mom or dad did not give you. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

    So I’m off to the big May Fete tonight at his school. It is a potluck. I may have an aneurism.

  • jan:

    And for me, really – we’ve been doing the allergy thing for a year now. It strikes me as a really interesting social issue. You meet some people who will completely bust their asses to keep your kid safe, they’ll clean before he visits, they’ll take the epipen on the playdate, they’ll triple check ingredients — you know, they care?

    But mostly you see that, in this situation, like most situations, most people just care about their own. There was a halloween party with these stupid goody bags, right? And there is all this crap in them – none of these kids need this stuff anyway. Well, the host mom knew of Nate’s allergy — so his bag had a pencil in it, and he is looking at his sister’s bag all stuffed with snickers bars and he is feeling decidedly unsatisfied. This from a mom who was trying to accomodate!

    This whole peanut issue is just one more tiny example of how incredibly selfish humans can be.

  • For Dominique and Jan, I hope I didn’t come off too heartless. I have a nephew who has Type 1 diabetes AND has Celiac disease. Celiac is an allergy to wheat, barley and gluten. It’s not just bread and pasta that he has to steer clear of, it’s a lot of processed foods, too. Gluten is in a lot of foods, as is ‘modified food starch’, which is often wheat-based. For him, exposure of ingestion of any of these foods causes exczema-type rashes all over his body, stomach cramps and fever. Long term exposure can put him at a higher risk for some cancers. Because of the way we need to prepare his foods at family gatherings, I know a little bit of what you are going through with your kids, and I can only imagine how difficult it is. He has to take his lunch to school, because the district will not provide a gluten-free menu, they say they don’t have the budget to modify their facilities and train the staff on safe food prep for just a ‘handful of kids’ (their words).

    I think your children have the right to be safe in school and not have to fear having an episode that would require medical attention. At the same time, with school districts strapped for cash (at least they are here in Kansas), and looking to cut corners where ever they can, I don’t think too many districts are going to look in to setting up separate lunchrooms. I don’t think they’ll spend the money to modify school kitchens to accommodate kids with allergies, which would be the ideal, I believe. I dont’ really know what the answer would be, but I do want you to know that I understand a little bit of your prediciment.

  • Cheyenne:

    Rechelle, it looks like your readers range from traditionalists to granola to rebels/freaks (pb with pickles or spinach, wtf?!), lol. I like any kind of pb with any kind of jelly, but my fave is Jif creamy with black raspberry jam on Peppridge Farm honey wheat bread. Gotta have a glass of skim milk with it too.

    I think with the allergy thing, if a kid could die, then it is worth inconveniencing everyone else, but I think there is a point where it’s taking it overboard. In our area, the school never serves pb (which has changed since I was a kid), and the teacher asks all parents at the beginning of the year if their kid has nut allergies. If there is a kid in the class w/ nut allergies, then that class is restricted to not sending in snacks with nuts/possible nut contamination. And everyone washes hands before and after eating regardless. I also like jan’s comment, that the parents of the affected kid must also drill it into them not to eat other people’s food.

    The only story I remember hearing about a kid dying from contact with a peanut eater was a few years ago a highschool aged girl died (I think) after kissing her bf who had eaten something with peanuts.

  • Abby Spice:

    I don’t want anyone’s kid dying. I think there are a few factors here:
    1. Many, many (but not all!!) “allergies” are not really allergies (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/health/research/12allergies.html ), and accommodating for everyone’s allergy and everyone’s not-actually-an-allergy makes a simple lunch a huge hassle.
    2. Many parents have children with “allergies”, know deep down that they aren’t actually a big deal, and don’t realize that some of those allergies ARE a big deal.
    3. Schools are increasingly also banning “unhealthy” foods (even though school lunches may be even more unhealthy), giving out detention for JOLLY RANCHERS ( http://www.khou.com/news/Candy-Gets-Third-Grader-A-Weeks-Detention-93033319.html ), killing bake sales, and cancelling birthday parties, which is unrelated but getting conflated with the allergy thing and making school and food a nightmare.

  • Kiara:

    Hmm, I’m 18 and from Ontario and we’ve had that rule in place in all the elementary schools ever since I was very young. I’m used to it. Sometime’s it annoying, but I don’t mind having to go without nut products if it’ll prevent someone from having a severe allergic reaction and potentially dying.

  • Megan:

    We’re vegans up in here and if my kids couldn’t have peanut butter to take to school they would starve. Our playgroups are peanut free and it makes me irrationally mad sometimes when we go to have a picnic with the group and I automatically reach for the peanut butter and then remember I can’t bring it. We have two kids with pretty severe allergies but they are old enough to know not to eat what isn’t for them. If I am not bringing something for everyone to share shouldn’t I be able to have my own damn sandwich?

  • Instead of banning peanut butter the board should require the parents to teach the kid to NOT EAT PEANUT BUTTER! How about a little personal responsibility folks?

    I have the same attitude towards visiting children who snoop around the host’s home until they find the hidden loaded gun then shoots someone.

    …and I don’t even LIKE peanut butter.

    Lori

  • Megan:

    And hey, I’m just saying, but my kids all knew by the age of three to ask if something was vegan before they ate it. No they wouldn’t die if a piece of cheese passed their lips, but they knew that we are vegan. My friend’s son has a severe peanut allergy, he goes to public school, he wears a rubber bracelet at all times stamped with “peanut allergy” on it. I have never understood banning the substance from every place on the planet because a small segment of the population is allergic. If you can’t send your kid to a school where someone might have a sandwich you must never let him enter a grocery store or eat in a restaurant.

  • Dominique:

    Megan said “We’re vegans”

    Sorry, but that’s a choice you made, not a life threatening, non negociable medical condition. This is way not the same thing.

  • Dominique:

    Lori – Instead of banning peanut butter the board should require the parents to teach the kid to NOT EAT PEANUT BUTTER! How about a little personal responsibility folks?

    Wow, that’s so incredibly ignorant to assume that we dont do that very thing.

    Do you think I sit on my butt and not teach my son that? I am nowhere near expecting everyone to cather to our needs without doing anything of my own. I AM teaching my son not to eat something not given to him by his parents, I AM teaching my son what being allergic to peanuts means. But kids are kids. But he’s only 4, he doesnt have the same understanding of things that an adult, or an older kid does.

    Maybe you should have been thaught a little bit of tolerance for people who arent lucky like you, that dont have to worry about this kind of stuff.

    Dominique

  • Christine from Canada:

    Educate, educate, educate. Peanuts should NOT be banned from schools.

    And no, dear parents with allergic kids: I’m not a heartless rebel. I used to volunteer practically daily. Used to Lysol desks and hands and everything else, even when there was not a peanut in sight. Never made anything with peanuts for lunch/snacks. Never voiced my opinion at school, but was highly pissed-off about the whole thing.

    Five kids out of 300 with an allergy. With their own lunchroom anyway.

    If you have an allergic child, do what you’ve always been doing: keep at him like you would about not running out on the road to catch a ball. Alert the adults in charge. Teach the children’s peers about peanut allergies.

  • Priss:

    I’m only weighing in on PB&J options since I’m not the most understanding of panicky hysterical parents. So…crunchy Jiff with my own homemade blackberry jam (with seeds) on buttered whole wheat toast. Toasted PB&Js are wayyyyy better than on fresh bread.

  • Kim K. in Western PA:

    Jif with grape jelly on whole wheat toast. We too had this same situation at my sons school (parochial school Rechelle, just a good natured jab) when he was in kindergarten. A note was sent home telling parents that there was a child who couldn’t even smell peanut butter and that because of this no children were allowed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. This happened the same week my husband and I had discussed strategies to get our son to eat more than peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Needless to say there was a hue and cry from the masses and the taking and eating of peanut butter continued unhindered. Phew was I ever relieved. I thought I was gonna have to choose between homeschooling my son and making him go hungry at school.

  • Priss:

    I just went up and finished reading the comments and now regret what I posted about panicky, hysterical parents. I should’ve just stated my preference like I meant to. My apologies to the parents of kids with allergies.

  • Nicole:

    I’m the mother of a little girl with a severe peanut allergy. I do not have a final verdict on whether or not I believe in complete peanut bans in schools. I think it can possibly lead to a false sense of security. But, at the same time, I understand the reasoning for the ban. What I don’t understand is how insensitive and downright mean people are on this topic, not to mention ignorant. It is terrifying and exhausting dealing with this on a constant basis. Did I really read the comment complaining about epi-pens being “everywhere”. How does that affect you? And, comparing lactose-intolerance and celiac to an anaphylactic food allergy? It is not the same. A trace amount of peanut protein can cause a life-threatening reaction. For people who claim that your children eat nothing but peanut butter, that’s your fault, not mine. Yes, it’s cheap and easy but there are other choices. I guess I’m just asking you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a minute.

    To answer someone’s question, only about 20% of kids outgrow a peanut allergy.

  • sandy:

    A whole wheat English muffin (toasted twice because my toaster is toast worthy deficient) with butter, then, smooth anything on sale peanut butter, then, low sugar grape jelly…..and, when did we all start to overreact to absolutely everything in this world? Sigh.

  • In one of the comments, someone said her child had a severe peanut allergy and did not know what would happen if he were exposed to peanuts.

    My question is, then how do you know he is allergic?

    After reading recent reports on the overdiagnosis of food allergies…… if my child were told he had a peanut allergy, I would sure have him re-tested if that is how he was diagnosed.

    Nothing I have read over the years has convinced me that this huge increase in food allergies (most notably peanuts) has any environmental cause.

    J

  • Riki:

    Ok…gotta share my favoritest sammich – thanks to my ex-wife:
    (yes, this is an actual GREAT TASTING sandwich…well, I think so)

    Lightly toasted bread -
    Crunchy (gotta be to off-set the onion-chunks) peanut butter on one side,
    Tuna spread (tuna, mayo, diced onion – NO PICKLE-RELISH!) on the other,

    …eat tuna-side-up so it doesn’t stick to the roof of your mouth.

    I love introducing folks to this sandwich: first I get to see their face screw-up when I tell them what it is, next I get to influence them to actually take ONE bite (just ONE bite!) — the usual reaction = “umm, that’s…interesting…let me try another bite” Then half my sandwich is gone.

  • jan:

    Me again. We know the kids have food allergies because of needle tests and blood tests. We don’t know how their next reaction will go down because no one does. We are, I assure you, more scared than you are. And we are, I assure you, doing everything we can on this end.

    Anyone who thinks we are doing anything else is living in their happy place.

    Thanks for your reasoned response Nicole.

  • Spinny:

    My son was a very picky eater until just recently. From 1st-3rd grade the only sandwich he would eat for lunch was peanut butter. No turkey, bologna, ham, roast beef. Only peanut butter. Seriously, I tried to get him to branch out and try new things. He just was not a fan of lunch meats for whatever reason.

    His school has strictly enforced rules against sharing food at lunch. And, since kindergarten, we’ve been warned when a child in his class has a peanut allergy. When I would send snack for the whole class, he would always ask me, “You didn’t put any peanuts in these did you?” At 5 years old, he was aware enough to look out for someone else’s allergies. I don’t think it’s wholly unreasonable to think a child of that age could pay attention to their own allergy and be taught not to share food.

    I do understand worrying about your child, but I think that there can be a happy medium between “OMG, peanut butter-eating kids are going to smear peanut butter on everything” and making the whole school a peanut-free zone.

    A little education of all the kids can go a long way.

  • Action Squirrel:

    No opinion about allergies and schools here, except that I think smooth store bought peanut butter is the devil’s feces. Most likely because my mother served it to me every single day she made my lunch, with banana slices. I hated bananas. It was always that or cream cheese and grape jelly. Farking gross.

    A decent fresh chunky organic peanut butter is pretty good, though, like maybe once or twice a year. In which case either a real fruit strawberry or preferably raspberry preserves is also called for, and some form of fresh mild sourdough type bread.

  • Jayne:

    I agree with Spinny. There has to be a happy medium somewhere. Rather than calling people insensitive, downright mean and ignorant maybe educating them would be a better idea.

    The only person I know with a peanut allergy is almost 60 years old and has been eating peanuts her entire life. Her symptoms are mild and she deals with them because she loves peanuts. My daughter’s mother-in-law went ballistic when I fed my then 2-yo grandson a PBJ sandwich because “some kids” are allergic to peanuts.

  • Kathy from NJ:

    The reason for the “pox parties” was so everyone would get sick at once – there were no vaccinations back in the dark ages (’50′s). Our “vaccination” was for smallpox, when I was in the lower grades the polio vaccine became available and was given to anyone in town who wanted it. We all got measles, mumps, chicken pox, German measles and whooping cough – occasionally a child would get quite sick, one classmate developed rheumatic fever(?). With the measles, blankets were hung over the windows to keep out the light and save our eyesight. Parents wanted their children to get mumps as a child, in many adult males, my father included, the mumps go straight to the testicles and can cause sterility.

    I am all for vaccinations and am very thankful that my nieces, nephews & great-niece have all received them. But I believe that a lot of people today are “clean freaks,” wiping counters & even floors with bleach to kill all the germs. I do not believe that constant sanitizing is good for us in the long run. I believe in survival of the fittest and the germs that don’t get killed turn into super-germs.

  • annmarie:

    I don’t know. It sounds so foolish, but I don’t have a kid with a peanut allergy, but it does seem over the top. This foolishness is why people end up homeschooling. My son got in trouble for eating a grasshopper in school this week. I get it, it is gross but when I got the the school 3 adults were yelling at him and saying “how could you kill an innocent animal, what’s next?” Please , it’s a freaking grasshopper an insect, not an animal. My son was crying his eyes out over the whole thing. I homeschool two of my other children but my husband thinks my son should be at school so that is where he is, but the whole thing made me sick. I was very nice to the school. but seriously, is it that outrageous that a 3rd grader would take someone up on a dare to eat a grasshopper? I’m just not that wowed by public schools.

  • Tracy:

    I’ve been in the school system for 9 years.. and all those years, we’ve had “peanut-free” schools.

    Did my kids suffer? No. Did they have miserable lunches? No.

    My kids knew to have their pb&j sandwiches on the weekend. Yes, they could have peanut butter on their toast in the morning – they knew to just wash up well afterwards.

    Now, kids aren’t expelled for bring in pb&j sandwiches. They are told to go to another part of the school to eat it – or provided with another lunch and the parents are notified of the nut-free lunch.

    There are protocols in place to identify allergy kids – so that the environment is safe for them – after all, everyone deserves a safe and healthy environment to go to school in…

    It’s funny though – I hear a lot of outrage of the no-nut rule here by parents of kindergartens and first graders… Your kids can eat other lunches – they can!! LOL Time to start now – experimenting. Everyone one of my kids entered school as “peanut butter loving fanatics” – with a little education and open discussions of the danger to other kids – we all adapted and planned other lunches.. Get your kids involved, let them make lunch decisions, let them help make it. They can and will eat the lunch :) They won’t starve.

  • Well, I used to be allergic to peanuts (I outgrew the allergy, don’t ask me how, but I did) anyway I eat peanut butter all the time now, I absolutely love it! But when I was younger I used to have to sit in a separate room away from all my friends at lunch because I had a peanut allergy; it was pretty depressing to be the only kid in my whole school to be segregated at lunch because of an allergy.

    My brother’s school actually banned all nuts, and no one has ever raised a fuss about it. My brother’s never even complained and he lives off peanut butter at home. It’s a tough question to answer “Should certain foods be barred from the lunch room because a few kids are allergic to them?” Personally I say go ahead and ban certain foods if its going to save kids the worry of having an allergic reaction at school. No one has ever died because of a lack of peanut butter. Thats just my opinion though!

  • Kathy J:

    First most folks just need to chill. At my PUBLIC SCHOOL ie the one I work at we all like to think of ourselves as a family that will look out after one another. 99% of changes that need to be made for a kid with some kind of an issue are no big deal. A year or so ago we had a kid in my class with a nut allergy – everyone knew about it because we made sure they knew, because we have respect for each other we do not have nuts in the class he is in. We had a teacher with an allergy to cinnamon – I took one for the team and gave up hot tamales (my favorite cinnamon laden candy) at school. Admittedly this was probably a good thing for me since the nutritional value of hot tamales is pretty much 0.

    Honestly where has common sense and a little empathy gone these days. Was my life ruined by my hot tamaleless school experience – don’t think so – and this other person was able to do her job and not be subjected to something that could make her sick. BTW did you know there is cinnamon in many ketchups? Neither did I

  • Meanie:

    I feel for those of you who have children with peanut allergies. But we are talking about public school. A four year old will not be in K-12 public school (unless he is a genius, and then really, is PS the best option for him?).

    I cannot eat gluten. My kindergarten (just turned 6) knows enough to say “My mom can’t have that” when her teacher wanted to give me a cookie at the stupid “Mother’s Kindy Tea.” And to say, “Read the label before I reach for some of her candy. Yes, she is a little smartie, but no more so than most of y’alls kids. A school aged child should be able to take on some responsibility for his/her allergy….even if it is just to say “Does it have peanuts?” or “I can’t eat food unless reads the label.” I opt for segregating the peanut kids instead of the non-peanut kids. Let those who choose to eat PBJ do so at a designated table (or ten) and the allergy kids will be trained to stay away from the “Peanut Table.”

  • I can see both sides of the argument, but I would be curious as to the statistics on food allergies in middle to upper class schools versus those that serve people who are closer to the poverty level. Are they the same? Moreover, I’m guessing nearly all of us reading and commenting are not poor and most likely white. As many have pointed out, peanut butter is very cheap. For families living at or below the poverty level, peanut butter could be the only healthy thing they get all day. Perhaps the only thing they get all day. These allergies can be life threatening, but could banning peanut butter for some families also be threatening their lives? If that’s all you can afford to eat, then what?

  • So if every child had a bad reaction to reading, would they take that out of schools? I’d say the PB&J problem should fall on the shoulders of the parent and not the schools. They already blame too much crap on the schools.

  • amy:

    I’m sure this has been said, but what sane parent sends their “deathly allergic” child to a public school? No way in hell that I’d do that and expect the entire school population to alter their menu for my child. I would hate homeschooling, but I’d do it in a heartbeat if I had a child that was so dangerously allergic.

  • LucyJoy:

    Oh yeah…Jif with my homemade wild huckleberry jelly on whole wheat toast & a cup of cocoa to drink with it…Mmmmm!

  • jo in oz:

    another interesting post.

    when my kids were at kinder, the entire kindergarden was a “nut free zone”. (It’s actually a pretty common thing here in Australia)
    Man, it was a drag to have to exclude everything that contained nuts or that was processed in a factory that also manufactured nut products.
    However, not too long ago a little 3 year old girl died at her child care due to an anaphylactic attack after coming into contact with peanut butter. I’d sure hate to be the parent who packed their kid off to kinder with p.b sandwiches that day knowing that the kinder was “nut free”. So very sad.
    Now my kids are at primary school and the policy is that if there is a child in the grade who has a nut allergy then that grade is nut free. Obviously, things are different her in Oz, we don’t have lunch rooms, mostly the kids eat in their classroom or outside. I really don’t think it’s that big of a deal to exclude nuts but then I realize Aussies don’t have the same affection for peanut butter as most Americans seem to!

    I guess I should actually try a p.b & j sandwich someday but… hmmm, I’m not sure….

  • Syl:

    Oh, now I have to add the fixings for my favorite peanut butter sandwich to my shopping list…

    Smucker’s smooth organic peanut butter with orange marmalade on rye toast… Yummy!

  • Mindy:

    Interesting conversation. I wrote a comment, then realized that it was longer than some of my husband’s college papers. So I shall only post my last sentiment. I don’t have food allergies, I don’t know anyone who is allergic to peanuts, but I won’t object if my child’s school says not to use them. It seems silly to me that convenience should trump safety. Isn’t this a good way to teach empathy to children? Little peanut sufferers will never know the joy of a snickers ice cream bar. What’s not having peanut butter and jelly for lunch in the face of that?

  • Sandy in MI:

    Yes, it’s easy to mock when it isn’t your child that could die of anaphylactic shock if he accidentally ingests anything with peanuts in it. Hee hee haha, that’s HILARIOUS.

  • Kim K. in Western PA:

    OK. I’m not mocking. Truly I’m not. My daughter and I are both allergic to bee stings. Seriously allergic. Carry Epi-Pen allergic. Did I hide her in a closet and never let her breathe fresh air because she might step, sit, or otherwise accidentally get stung by a bee? No. She is a grown woman now, married and carrying her Epi-Pen. Do I worry? Yes! Can I spend my whole life running from bees? Yes! Do I? No. Does she? No! That isn’t living. That is hiding. What’s the point in hiding? And before anyone says you never had a child who had a serious condition. Yes I did. And my sweet little man died. So don’t preach to the choir. Do you really expect all the kids in school to go without anything processed with or made of nuts? Really?! Sheesh.

  • Heidi:

    My kids each had a classmate with peanut allergies. That student had to sit alone in the cafeteria – at a separate table in the corner. Each day another student was assigned to be his lunch buddy so that he wasn’t eating alone.

    As for my favorite PB&J? Well, my favorite is Jif peanut butter with Welch’s Grape Jelly on white bread. Now that I’m mature, howver, I try to eat whole grain bread and branch out a little with any kind of jelly or jam I can try. I love cruncy peanut butter but don’t buy it much. PB&J is one of my favorite comfort foods.

  • Jan Blawat:

    At our local supermarket you can grind your own PB. No salt, no sugar, crunches galore. I don’t eat many carbs, so I put it on celery. Yum. I don’t know about childhood allergies, but I work with a lot of adults who think they’re allergic to all sorts of stuff, mostly I think so they can take pills. They’re very annoying.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    I was joking about my kids starving without peanut butter. Sheesh!

    It’s not a lack of empathy for peanut allergy sufferers, or anyone for that matter. My Kindergartener knows the dietary limitations of one of her classmates – the whole class knows, and cares, and watches out for him. When the class has treats for some reason, he has treats that are compatible with his special diet. They are not segregated at lunch – he knows what foods he can’t touch, his classmates know, and there is your usual adult supervision appropriate for their age, who all know about his health. Tables are sanitized between classes.
    But would it be reasonable for the whole school, such as 6th graders, to be prohibited from bringing the foods for lunch that he can’t have, in case he might be exposed somehow? I wonder, do schools with kids with very sensitive diabetes ban all simple sugars and carbohydrates so the kids don’t accidentally get too much? As Kim K. said, even people with dire reactions to bee stings still go outside.

    So do you ban nut products for a classroom, or grade, of kids and expect the kid with allergies to bring their lunch from home (which all sounds reasonable to me,) or do you ban nut products from an entire school, perhaps even requiring costly menu and kitchen changes?

  • We’ve talked a lot here about this issue at the elementary school level, but what happens when a child with a serious allergy gets in to middle or high school, schools that tend to have larger populations? I think that on that level, school districts would be even more resistant to the idea of banning one food all together just to accomodate a relatively small number of students.

    My nephew who has celiac (and yes, I know it’s not as life-threatening as a peanut allgergy, but between it and his diabetes he knows at 10 yrs old that his life span is significantly reduced as is his quality of life), has to take his lunch to school. My SIL tried to get their district to acommodate him so that he could buy his lunch, but they simply wouldn’t do it. The district cited cost concerns over having to set up a separate area in the school cafeteria where his food would be prepped, and his tray washed and stored separately. So he takes his lunch and fortunately, is able to sit with his classmates.

    I asked my son last night how food allergies were handled at our school. I asked him if the kids with peanut allergies were made to sit at a separate table, and he said no. I do know that at the beginning of each school year we fill out a form covering allergies, and the room parents are made aware of what, if any allergies, are in our classes. So peanuts(or whatever a student in that class is allergic to) are banned at the classroom level, but not school-wide. Our school has a fairly small population, around 500 kids. In classes where it’s known we have a child with an allergy, we make sure that treats brought in to class will acommodate him or her.

    I totally get how the parent of a child who has a serious allergy would want a total ban on whatever substance they’re allergic to, I really do. I would be terrified at the thought of my son having something so serious. But we can’t put our children in protective bubbles to keep them safe. We can’t control every enviornment and situation that our children are in, especially as they get older. While you may be able to get peanuts banned in your child’s grade school, it may be much more difficult at the middle and high school level.

  • jan:

    As I’ve said above, my 4 yr old boy has severe food allergies (peanuts/shellfish). He is in a montessori preschool now and his classroom has gone peanut free for him and another boy in his class (also severe nut allergy). As part of their day, they share a group snack. Even though the snack is “nut free,” I have my guy choose his snack from his lunch box in an effort to teach him that he should be very mindful of what he puts in his body.

    The school is not nut-free, so I am concerned (to put it mildy) that he will come upon it somehow. Another super-high-strung mom said, HOW CAN YOU NOT SEND HIM TO A NUT-FREE SCHOOL? First off, can’t afford it. Second off, planet is not nut-free so he needs to learn. But at what risk?

    I wish all you “my kid would starve” folks would just shut it. Sorry dears but that is ridiculous. We are not in subsaharan africa and you need to shut it.

    I think the segregation issue is a nightmare. But it is my personal nightmare, and his, not your’s. So I guess if I can’t get a ban in the local public school (which will be tough – they serve it as an option every single day) then I will have him sit there and I will take it as an opportunity to build his sweet character.

    Rechelle you have touched a nerve. Can you tell I’m interested in this topic?

    Seems to me that if there are more allergies all the time – and we know there are – my kid has at least 5 others at his school and I never knew ANYONE when I was a kid…then it would be nice to approach this issue with tolerance. Just as we should approach all issues.

    Peace out.

  • Kim K. in Western PA:

    Seems to me Jan that you are approaching this issue with the tolerance of someone driving a bulldozer in a parking lot full of subcompacts. Yes. Now I am mocking.

  • Patricia:

    Yes, Kim K in Western PA – Jan is approaching the subject with the “tolerance of someone driving a bulldozer in a parking lot full of subcompacts”….and for very good reason. I have been a school nurse for over 20 years, in different systems. Many schools completely ban peanuts, including the one I work in now. There is a very good reason for this. Children and teenagers can, and have, died from exposure to the peanut protein. Anyone can research this fact I have just stated – over 100 children and teenagers die every year from anaphylactic shock after exposure to the protein, and it does NOT have to be ingested by the person. Witness this just once, and I guarantee you won’t be quite so cavalier….All allergies have increased dramatically over the past 20 years, not just the peanut allergy. Maybe we should all spend our free time being concerned about that fact, instead of worrying that our kids can’t have their PB&J in the school caf. And yes, I do have children, they do go to this school I work in that bans all peanuts, and yes, they eat their PBJ at home..

  • Amy:

    To be honest, I personally am tired of the “whole” being restricted/punished/inconvenienced for a “few”.

    I live in a small, rural area in the midwest. Our school district has been “nut restricted” for at least 10 yrs. When my 19 year old was in elementary school, there was one child that had a nut allergy and the school had to go “nutless”. I therefore know first hand what a extra inconvenience it is to try and make sure your kid’s lunch or classroom treat doesn’t kill anyone.

    Solution: a child that has a nut allergy should have an aid at school. Aids are assigned to children with all sorts of issues be it cognitive/medical/behavioral. The aid would run “interference” for any potential contact to said allergen.

    This way everyone’s health issues are being addressed and everyone’s right to eat what ever they want are not infringed upon.

  • jan:

    Thanks Patricia.

    Hey Kim K? What can I say? I like the kid better than any kind of food in the world.

    And I’m only trying to say what it is like on this side of the story. There is nothing easy about educating him or you.

    For the record: I am neither the most paranoid nor the most laid back type mom I know. I tend to try to approach this and every issue of our’s with practicality, and not to come completely unhinged. Am I scared? Yes. Do I have friend’s whose children have bigger problems than a peanut allergy? I do.

    I have to say though that when I meet with his pediatric allergist? The woman scares the living daylights out of me. She says he should never have products manufactured on shared equipment with peanuts. Read a few labels for yourselves and see what that is like.

    I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know it is my job to keep him safe and to do everything I can to help him to keep himself safe as he grows AND I appararently need to keep you from harming him with your damn lunch.

    If that offends you, I apologize. I’ll definitely leave your breakfast and dinner alone. Believe me when I say that I am doing the best I can.

  • jan:

    Wow. Amy. You are seriously weighing your convenience against my child’s life? You really are? Really?

    OK honey. Have it your way.

    This is the first time I have participated in this type of discussion on this issue. And I stand quite educated.

    I genuinely had no idea there were so many people so attached to their peanut butter and their convenience.

    It is good to know on this end for sure.

    Hey Rechelle? MAYBE PEANUT BUTTER IS GOD.

  • Jenni in KS:

    Smooth natural (Smuckers or store brand, doesn’t matter) peanut butter on Sara Lee multigrain toast with a thin layer of butter before the peanut butter. Polaner blackberry jam or strawberry with seeds, if I’m having jam with peanut butter. Sometimes a glass of milk to wash it down.

    Jo’s boyfriend is visiting her from Manhattan this weekend. (She’s home from college for the summer.) He’s allergic to peanuts and carries an epi pen, but he’s very casual about the whole thing. The first time he had dinner here, he didn’t think to tell me about the allergy until dinner was on the table and people had begun eating. I told him to wait while I read all the labels of the ingredients I’d used. He said he was sure someone could find his epi pen in the mess in his car if he started to swell up and began eating while I freaked out and ransacked the entire kitchen while yelling and begging him to stop until I’d thoroughly investigated. No dead boyfriend at my dinner table, so I guess it was peanut free.

  • Kim K. in Western PA:

    Patricia, did you read any of my previous posts?

    Jan, I am truly sorry that your son has a severe allergy. And I am not being cavalier. I have experienced the trials of having a child with a severe health problem and I feel your anguish and concern. Believe me I only wish his problems had been as simple as a peanut allergy. I also know that me and the rest of my family had to find a way to keep living and work around the difficulties without making the rest of the world conform to our needs. It was up to ME to find a way to make it work. It was not up to EVERYONE else to find a solution. No, peanut butter is not God. Neither are the children who love it and neither are the children who are allergic to it. We are all just trying to find a way to make the best of what we have in life.

  • DirtyKSmama - Nikki:

    My concern isn’t about banning just the PB&Js. Yes, peanut butter is the most common, concentrated, and therefore lethal form. But SO many products now have the statement that they were prepared in a facility that also processes nuts, it just seems it would be impossible to prevent all peanut protein from entering the school, and there may be a false sense of security at a “nut-free” school.
    Heck, nuts are located with the produce in the grocery store – same person handles the peanuts and bags of apples.

    I’m interested why there seems to be an expectation that schools are responsibile to feed all children lunch? I realize there is the low-income program – that’s fine, but why should the school be responsible for preparing lunch for all special diets if the parents can afford to provide lunch themselves? Lots of kids bring lunchboxes daily, mine included.

  • Ron:

    I’m not going to weigh in on the “nut-free” school issue, as I don’t have children.

    However, I want to point out that the risk from peanut allergies (while very real) might be overstated. Here is a short piece from Harper’s that addresses the annual number of deaths as well as the “death from peanut kiss” story:

    http://www.harpers.org/media/slideshow/annot/2008-01/index.html

  • Intolerance?
    Expecting others to be responsible for their children is intolerant?
    Teaching a child that a food allergy does NOT make them entitled or excuses them from making the right choices?

    Oh geez….

    Diabetes is rampant in my family as well as my husbands.
    The youngest diabetic ‘victim’ in my family is three. The second oldest is six. On my husband’s side three nieces were diagnosed when they were five, four and six.

    In all twelve diabetic instances not once has parents/grandparents/and all other family members expected anyone but themselves to take responsibility for the diabetic victim.
    Ever! The situation is explained to friends and schools/churches notified. Everyone do all they can to accommodate the diabetic but in the end it is the PARENT’S responsibility. If a three year old can say ‘I need in su in please’ I would hope your four year old can say ‘I can’t have peanuts’.

    You want to talk food allergies?
    You’re talkin to the right woman and you are lecturing the wrong woman…..
    Food allergies do not a victim make and the worst thing a parent can do is teach your child that the food allergy makes them entitled.

    If this makes me intolerant, so be it.

    Lori

  • Amy:

    Jan

    Rather than play the bullied victim surrounded by a bunch insensitive, selfish peanut pushers, take a moment to consider the perspectives and solutions offered.

    Having a child in a nut-free school is an inconvience for all. I’m sorry that you find that remark offensive, but it’s true. And for the record I did not say that my inconvenience was far more important than your child’s life – you said that.

    What I did convey was a solution that would allow both freedom in food choices for the masses and a safe environment for your child to be in. You refused to even weigh in on the solution or offer a rational reason why my suggestion would not work. Instead your reaction was one of closed-mindedness – typical behavior of those who expect the world to bend over backwards to accomodate their needs.

  • jan:

    I’m sorry for about the diabetes Lori. It is worse than a peanut allergy.

    I think what makes a peanut allergy different is that it SEEMS like a simple fix: keep the darn peanuts away.

    Diabetes is so much trickier on its face. So hard to predict and monitor. But, really, as this conversation shows — peanuts are tricky too. People get emotional about their freedoms to eat what they want.

    They do have their similarities, but (like I almost said above) we realize that there are problems far worse than our’s, and that ultimately it is our responsibility to care for our child.

    Let it be known though people: if something as simple as changing what I have for lunch, or send with my child for lunch, will help keep your family safer? Say the word. I’ve got no problem with living my life that way.

  • jalf:

    I say ban it!

    Why?

    Because I don’t really like peanut butter… ;)

    Plain peanuts, of course, is a completely different issue!

    @jan: Everyone has to weigh everyone’s life against their convenience. You may have heard of cars. They’re very common. Sometimes they kill people. Should we ban them?

    There’s the sea too. Who haven’t heard of people drowning? Should we ban swimming?

    How about kissing? http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20051125/peanut_allergy_051125/20051125

    Yes, we are absolutely weighing people’s lives against our convenience. And that’s the point. It’s a trade-off. We should absolutely care about not putting people’s lives at risk. But ultimately, no one can be kept safe. No matter how much convenience we sacrifice. No matter if you’re allergic or not.

    You are absolutely batshit insane if you truly believe that any and all conveniences should be abandoned in order to safeguard your child against peanuts. If you think that the entire world should (or could) reshape itself around your child’s needs. It’s natural to want the best for your child. But in this case, it is not possible, and it is an entirely unreasonable thing to demand of, well, everyone else in the world.

    AND I appararently need to keep you from harming him with your damn lunch.

    Do you? No one is forcing your child to eat their lunch. As dangerous as peanut allergy is, I don’t believe anyone has ever died from sitting next to someone eating peanut-based food.

    So perhaps a more rational response would be to ensure that the school is aware of the issue, and has some kind of policy in place to avoid accidentally and unwillingly exposing children to food based on peanuts. As long as the school cafeteria (if there is one) clearly labels what does, and does not, contain peanuts (which seems like a reasonable thing to do), and does not allow the kids to smear their lunch in other kids faces (which also seems a reasonable thing to forbid), I think they’ve done theirs. If your child is also aware that “I am allergic to peanuts, and it could kill me. I shouldn’t eat my friends’ lunch if I’m not sure it’s safe”, I don’t know what more could be done without going to ridiculous extremes.

    Your child is going to live in a peanut-infested world, now and forever. You can’t ban your way out of it, as much as you want to (and as understandable it is that you want to). It’s just not possible, and even if it were, it wouldn’t eliminate the risk.

  • jan:

    Sorry to make you feel bullied Amy. I think you are feeling a little defensive. I am too, for sure.

    I think your solution would be great except there are some social issues and I bet it would be expensive as hell.

  • jan:

    And thanks for the name calling Jalf! Nice!

  • Amy:

    Jan

    I’m not being defensive nor do I feel bullied – I’m being practical and honest. I don’t understand why you say that an aid would not be an option due to “social issues” and that it would be “expensive”. Aids are employeed by the school district, not the parent.

  • Kathy:

    A full time aid for kids with allergies? Are you kidding me? I can’t even begin to list all the things wrong with that idea beginning with the cost… And what about kids with bee sting allergies? Someone to shadow them on the playground at every recess? God forbid a bee flies into the school building.

    I taught next door to a classroom where a first grader was diagnosed with diabetes. No school nurse. Very little parent involvement. The kid wouldn’t finish his lunch or drink his milk which, I was told, was important to keep blood sugars stable. Guess he didn’t know better and when a six year old doesn’t want to eat…

    Luckily (I suppose) the teacher on the other side was a diabetic herself and knew what to do if his sugars were out of whack. Mom was so laid back, it was scary.

    This kid needed education and parent involvement. A school nurse would have been nice. An eight dollar an hour classroom aide wouldn’t have helped much.

  • Ron:

    Since Jalf linked to a story about the “peanut butter kiss” death, I want to reiterate that the girl didn’t die from peanut butter:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-500486_162-1614851-500486.html

    Naturally, the original (sensational) story about a deadly peanut butter kiss got all the media coverage. The followup that gave the real cause of death didn’t get anywhere near the coverage.

    Just a reminder to be wary about what you see in the media, or hear from “concerned parents” (vaccine scares are another case in point).

  • My mother believed in the old wives’ tale that one’s allergies change every seven years. Sure was true for me and has been all of my life. Weird, huh?

    Going back to one of the original questions…what happens when these allergic kids are out in public, touching railings and chairs and “stuff”?

  • jan:

    Amy – I just thought it would be weird for a kid to be followed around by an aid — weirder than the table segregation idea, maybe. And I meant expensive for the schools, not for the individuals.

    I said above that my boy’s allergist scares the daylights out of me every time I see her. It almost is as though she is legally required to scare me – that is how much she goes at it. I think what makes people like me jittery is the unknown part of the peanut allergy: they lurk in production plants and bakeries and people’s homes. I think though that it is the very rare case when it comes out in airplanes and railings and stuff like that.

    It does seem sortof funny (as in odd, not as in ha ha) though — once you are on the other side, like me, you realize that peanuts are just this big American thing. Take the kid to a baseball game and there is this huge danger scattered all over the ground.

    Life is so odd sometimes.

    I really hope I haven’t offended anyone, or made anyone put another notch on their damn-these-overprotective-mothers-and-their-crap belts. I think it is sortof odd that I have been perceived as a deep-end NUT (get it) case of an allergy mom. Did anyone notice that I never said “ban it for everyone.” I never did.

    Have a good weekend everyone. Stay safe when you can.

  • Action Squirrel:

    Aren’t there peanut residues and essences and things in just about everything these days? I did a quick search and it looks at first glance as though you really can’t get away from peanuts in a packaged and processed world. They even use peanuts in PLASTICS. I wonder how many deathly allergic kids are actually being exposed all the time.

    I am allergic (4 out of 4 on the allergist’s scale) to hazelnuts, plus a few other things and my doctor has given me a few Serious Talks because of respiratory reaction, but I have in fact eaten hazelnuts and not died. Like, lots and lots and lots of times. These days I just have an inhaler with me if I think I am going to be accidentally force-fed vast amounts of hazelnuts and I start feeling a little short of breath. And if someone does accidentally force feed me a jug of crunchy hazelnuts, and I feel short of breath, I just use the freaking inhaler and feel better, the end.

    It’s not really such a huge deal, and also not really a mystery whether or not someone can’t breathe well– my husband will make me take the inhaler if he hears me sigh over and over, I don’t even think about it.

  • Hi everyone!

    A lot of you probably aren’t aware, but there’s an alternative to peanut butter. Basically it’s nut free “peanut” butter, I’ve tried it and while it doesn’t taste the exact same as peanut butter it does come close. It’s a safe alternative for kids with peanut allergies, and I’m sure kids without peanut allergies would like it to. Here’s the link http://www.peabutter.ca/

    I don’t know if this brand is available in the U.S. but in Canada you can find it all over the place. The U.S. probably has something similar to it.

  • dee:

    Patricia — thanks for your post. And, Jan — you are wise to listen and to heed your child’s ped. I don’t have children, but I always try to think — what if it were my child or grandchild —- 99% of the time, I’d probably be singing a different tune . (And I cannot help but wonder about all those who keep harping for the parents to educate — they HAVE to know that you are doing just that , day in and day out. For those who say that their child won’t eat anything else, maybe they should , you know, just educate them?)

  • Another Lee:

    Ok, I’m just going to throw out a different perspective here, since I’m a (SECULAR, Rechelle) homeschooler and don’t have to deal with all the politics that go along with the school system – thank FSM.

    Couldn’t some of this just be a push back about all the rules and regulations that schools force on kids and parents every day? I can see this issue being the straw on the camel, so to speak.

    So what I am wondering is, what if it were put to the student body for vote? What if several options for dealing with peanut allergies were put on a ballot, and all kids in the school had a vote? Would everyone be more willing to go along with the resulting regulation? Would the kids surprise us with their compassion for their fellow student(s)?

    Off to polish my rose-colored glasses again…

  • Jayne:

    I would just hate for someone to become too dependent on thinking their child was “safe” from nuts while at school. I’d much rather drill into my kid’s head (without going way, way overboard) that he cannot eat anything at school that could be a risk. What if something slipped by and got through the checkpoints? What if Mary’s mother baked cookies for a treat but didn’t read the label on all of the ingredients she used?

    I really don’t have an opinion on whether or not nuts should be allowed in schools. I see both sides.

  • I just read the HARPERS article that someone posted here and it confirmed many of my worst suspicions. There is very little anecdotal evidence regarding reactions to peanut allergies, statistics have been exaggerated, and worst of all, the manufacturers of epi-pens have their hand in the mix – they created the FAAN children’s network website and support it. And all leading allergists have ties to FAAN. Sounds very suspicious to me.

    And the CDC said there is no hard data that supports the number of peanut-related anaphylactic shock events that are claimed to have happened.

    One allergist said he sometimes spreads peanut butter on the arms of his peanut-allergic patients to show parents that their child is not going to die if s/he touches peanut butter.

    This puts me in mind of the person responsible for so much of the undocumented SIDS “research” in the 70s…he was the developer of a device said to warn parents of breathing disorders which might result in a death. He was a charlatan/a fake/a phony who scared unsuspecting parents.

    A book was written about this (“The Death of Innocents”) just as I suspect a book will be written about the peanut allergy threat.

  • Lgirl:

    Dartmouth NS here
    Our school has banned Nuts, kiwi and Bananas. It’s been 7 years at least The Banana ban lifted last year!. All Doctors offices and fragrance and nut free as well.
    I have had caregivers remove snacks from my children because it didn’t specifically say nut free on the label Though no nuts were listed, or that it didn’t have any label such as foil easter eggs!!!! Harumph!(Yeah Fit a label on one of those suckers!)
    Itr’s foolish and I dont understand why they can’t have a seperate table for the children affected by these allergies?

  • The Truth:

    I keep seeing people say nut allergy when talking about peanuts. Peanuts are legumes not nuts so big difference. One may be allergic to peanuts but this does not mean they are allergic to tree nuts too.
    And really investigate and google and see how many people honestly have a death from peanut allergies. If that were true our airlines would not still give them out as a snack. If so many truly had it this severe. Think about it. Peanuts are in so many things in some form.
    I think it is ridiculous to make 300 children stop something for one. It is the one child that has the problem, it should be up to the parents and the school to protect and educate the child with the allergy. It’s the stark truth, nobody is going to care for your child like you are.
    If you are that concerned then homeschool.

  • Crunchy Jif with apple jelly on sourdough.

    Sometimes, if nobody’s paying attention and I feel like I want to channel my elementary school self…

    … with Lay’s potato chips therepon.

    *cough*

  • I used to think that the peanut hysteria was out of control.
    Until 2 years ago I gave birth to a child that will die if he eats more than 10 grams of PROTEIN. (a paper clip is 1 gram) Not just peanut butter…did you know that nearly EVERYTHING has protein? Aside from sugar and spices and mostly water based fruits? yeah…suddenly I get the peanut hysteria in a way that I never did before.

    When your child can eat something, and six hours later be brain dead, you will do anything, ask for any concessions so that your child can live as normally as possible but not die from getting an education.

    Though the “people pleaser” in me HATES the idea of asking for school concessions. I would rather gnaw my own arm off than inconvenience someone but this is just something I am going to have to do.

    Or home school. “No honey, just do your math while mommy licks this spoonful of Jif!”

    BTW, peanut butter (smooth) and a slice of cheese, slightly warmed…delicious!

    Mindy

  • susan:

    OMG. I think the world has gone nuts with ailments to worry about. PBJ has been around in schools for AGES!!! Yes I know the allergy problem but jeez.

    I have noticed various ads on TV here in Houston ‘clinics’ specializing in 2 things in the past year. 1. Fibromyalgia and 2. Lymphodemia (spelling?). What next.

  • Priss:

    mindy, what condition does your son have? My daughter has PKU so has to limit her protein tremendously but is no danger of dying from it, thankfully. She’s now nearly 33 and since I’m not managing her diet I’m not as up metabolic disorders as I used to be. What’s the name of your son’s disorder?

  • The Truth:

    Mindy I am so sorry about your child! That is really sad and rare I would imagine.
    My point was that most of these allergies WHEN deadly are when ingested by the child in question, some of these schools have parents saying if someone 20 ft of their child eat it their child will die and I have yet to see a case of that anywhere. Precaution is good, mass hysteria is not.
    I wish you and your child the best.

  • The Truth:

    And I wanted to add there is danger everyday for people like that. Just going to a store and grabbing a door knob, someone just ate a peanut butter sandwich and didn’t wash their hands. Do you understand my point? I honestly am not saying there is no one that sensitive but it is SOO out of the norm that it would be ridiculous to think so and start banning at the rate we are seeing. You can’t control the world unless you are in a plastic bubble. It is very unfortunate but the PC on so many things in this country has gotten to be a worse epidemic then half of the diseases/allergies so many claim to have.

  • The Truth:

    And please parents that are claiming their child have peanut allergies and keep calling it nut allergies and saying NUT bans. You can be allergic to a peanut (a legume, NOT A TREE NUT OR A NUT AT ALL EXCEPT BY NAME) and eat pecans, macadamia, almonds etc.. they are not related. Now you can however be allergic to peanuts and happen to be allergic to some tree nuts or all or one or none.
    This is what I mean, I see the people claiming allergies and don’t seem to even be educated themselves.

  • I’m not calling for a peanut ban at schools, but I don’t pack them for my kids because *I* don’t want to be the one who puts a child with allergies in a scary/life threatening situation. I’m of the mind that they eat what I pack or they go hungry. It took about a week of a hungry first grader refusing a perfectly acceptable lunch before she decided to be civilized and eat what I’d provided. I pack her fruit and chips and veggies and cheese and juice. It’s not that difficult. It takes no more time than making a pb&j.

    When we go on an outing with a play group I don’t pack them either because I just don’t know who will be there. To me it just seems like the considerate thing to do.

    I don’t drink in front of my recovering alcoholic uncle. He doesn’t smoke around me (I’m allergic). I teach my children to respect the limitations of others because I hope others will respect theirs in return.

  • Emily:

    This is touchy for me, because my best friend’s son is allergic to peanuts. She requests that everyone in preschool respect his allergy by never sending anything containing nuts or processed in a facility that also processes nuts. This includes ALL bakery items, so no cutsie cookies for holiday parties, either. When I was growing up, if a kid had an allergy, his or her mom looked out for them by making sure they had their own snack. The entire town wasn’t expected to act as if they, too, had nut allergies. In a class of 20, if 19 aren’t allergic, shouldn’t they get to partake in potentially nutty snacks?

  • I know I am late on this one, but I have to sound off. My nephew has a peanut allergy. I get it. My children and I do not eat peanutbutter in front of him. I don’t want to make the little guy sick. But last week I lost it when she implied that I was being rude to her little guy by eating a popsicle in front of him that he could not have (it had a cover your a** label… processed in a factory that contains nuts). My sister admitted it wasn’t a health issue, but that she was worried that he might feel left out. Now I have to worry about him feeling left out too?