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peanut allergy debate

Years ago, when my kids first started school, there was discussion of a peanut butter ban. At the time, my daughter (Gracelynn) was an extremely picky eater and practically lived off of PB&J. I was upset, and thought it was so stupid that my child would have to … gasp… eat something else at lunch! Just because of some other kid's allergies? Oh come on now.

Then, I learned that peanut allergies are deadly! They actually KILL people. EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR!

No one disputes that peanut allergies can be very serious, even lethal. Such deaths are rare — about 100-150 a year in the United States across all food allergies. And there are even conflicting views on how that occurs or what level of exposure is dangerous.Deseret News

Peanut allergy deaths are “rare”.. about 150 a year in the United States. How “rare” would it be if it were YOUR child? I immediately stopped sending PB&J with my kids to school.

I brought this topic up on Facebook because of a recent death of a 13 year old little girl. Her situation was a bit different, as it didn't happen at school, but it was still her peanut allergy that killed her. When I posted this question on Facebook, you all sounded off!! See the full conversation here.

I don't think anyone's “Special Snowflake” is going to be harmed NOT having PB&J at school… It's not even terribly healthy, when you get right down to it and, though it's easy, so is making a cream cheese and jam sammy, cheese and crackers, leftovers from the night before, etc.

A serious allergy, like a peanut allergy, should not be ignored and I do believe it's up to the school's to determine what lengths they go to to ensure every.single.child. is safe while in their care. And, when I hear people saying, “It's not fair that my kid can't have PB&J”, I often counter with, “but then, how fair would it be to YOUR child to witness the terrifying allergic reaction of a child with a serious allergy because you just couldn't figure out an alternative to sending peanut butter?”.

This lady hit the nail on the head! Love it!

kids die from peanut allergies

“So because someone has a peanut allergy we should ban peanuts? What about dairy? Or gluten? Should we ban those too? I have a friend who's mom is so allergic to dairy that even walking down the cheese isle at the store can lead to a reaction. Yeah that happens. So should we ban foods like that too?

Last time I checked, my child drinking dairy next to your child is not going to KILL your child. However, eating peanuts (or products with peanut oil in them) next to a peanut-allergic child could be deadly.

Children DYING.. vs “my kid wants a PB sandwich” – it truly shows how LIMITED and Ignorant people are.
Most peanut butters are hardly even peanut butter, it's mostly chemicals and Extremely Unhealthy.
Every time someone whines about their kid bring a PB&J all I can hear them say is “I demand that my child be able to eat unhealthy chemical butter and jelly, because that's all they will eat.”
If that's ALL your kid will eat, you're failing as a parent. My kid is handicapped and will eat more than that.

Amen! Ignorant and self-centered are two things that come to mind… a child COULD DIE, and you're concerned about YOUR child getting to eat peanut butter during the 8 hours they're at school? Feed them PB&J for dinner if it's THAT important to you.

That”s what is wrong with the world today, overprotective parents. Let your kids live and learn life lessons! There's going to be situations where they come across peanuts they will just have to learn to say no. I went all through school and never had a problem, no-one in my school died or became severely ill. Reminds me of all the parents who are germ-o-phobes, who won't expose their children to germs, which ultimately HARMS their immune system in the long run….ok that is all. Feel free to disagree ;0)

Yes, I'm sorry. I'm overprotective because I DON'T WANT MY CHILD TO DIE AT SCHOOL. *smh* This stupid ass comment takes the cake.

I'm sorry to have to get involved in this…however…my daughter survives on pb&j. She is a picky eater. So, rather than move the peanut allergy kids, I should just not feed my child? Really? I have a niece and nephew who have severe peanut allergies. I respect that. But I also have to say, my child deserves to eat too. It's not fair to my child to ban pb&j because another child is allergic. I find this terrible for m child to go hungry because another child is allergic. My child washes hands and face after eating. Why punish my child too? Sorry…but my child will have pb&j. They will not go hungry when another child could simply sit at an allergy table during lunch. It has to be fair to all involved.

Your child is a picky eater? So what does she eat for breakfast and dinner? PB&J? I call bullshit. Switch it out and send her to school with breakfast or dinner foods and feed her the PB&J at home.

Check out this list of peanut butter alternatives over at Peanut Free Planet!

peanut allergy deaths

I'm not sure what part of KIDS ARE DYING some parents don't understand, but the self-entitlement is ridiculous. They're going to raise assholes that think it's okay to do whatever they want no matter who they harm. Stop being so selfish! Your child will not DIE if they stop eating peanut products while at school. Your child does not have a RIGHT to peanut butter. Isn't a child's life, any child's life, worth more?

I honestly can't even believe this is a debate, but I'll ask anyway… what do you think about the Great Peanut Debate?

Lisa summed it all up quite nicely…

My daughter came home today from kindergarten and said “no more peanut butter at school.” I get it. This is stupid. All of you stubborn people not getting the point that other children could DIE all b/c your little brat wants a dumb sandwich is craaazzzyyy! Have some compassion. Is a peanut butter sandwich that important to you when it could turn deadly to someone else's child. And instead of your kid coming home crying because he can't have a pb&j sandwich, he could come home crying cause his buddy Tommy dropped dead today. …get with the program. I hope debates like these make it national law to ban all peanut products in schools and if you get be compassionate still, well then homeschool YOUR KID. It's not their fault that they could die. Do you also want to raise your kids to be as insensitive as you? So no more pb&j for my daughter at school. Big whoop. Life goes on….

How would you feel if YOUR child could die from a peanut allergy? Would you still be saying kids “deserve” to eat PB at school? They have the “right” to possibly kill your child?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Laurie Bennett

Laurie Bennett

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95 Comments

  1. If my child wants to have a PB sandwich and (s)he’s not allergic, than a PB (s)he shall have! Bans mean nothing to me, and I’m ordering all schools to lift these bans, right now! If not, sooner!

    1. I do the same! My daughter eats what ever she wants. I kept getting notes from her school and calls from her teacher and principal asking me not to let her bring PBJ’s for lunch, but I told them off. If someone’s kid is that allergic to certain foods and the parent is THAT worried, then they should leave their kid at home!

  2. I recently ran afoul of this. I packed my little girl two Welch’s Graham Slams and she told me the Lunch Trolls would not let her eat it.

    I consider myself liberal minded, but schools are becoming too pussy-whipped / politically correct.

    If there is a child or children in the school who can’t eat peanut butter, then don’t let them near, but don’t tell my child what she can eat.

  3. You say “your child drinking milk near a child with a milk allergy cannot kill them” and that is correct, but have you ever searched for foods that do not contain milk?? It gets difficult. Think of typical lunches a child can carry to school and then look at how many of them have milk!!! We even have very limited bread choices for a sandwich! And unfortunately my child does not like meat, so a plain old ham sandwich is out too.
    It’s now always a situation of a “spoiled child” who only wants PB. Sometimes that is the only option they have to eat.
    Milk allergy = no cheeses, no spaghettios, ravioli, etc.

    I don’t want any child harmed EVER, but I do think there has to be another option. Peanut allergies are not the only allergy out there, and when your child has other allergies PB could be one of the few foods they can actually eat!

  4. I myself am not allergic to peanuts, which are technically legumes, but I am allergic to almost all tree nuts; I carry an EpiPen, and suffered a severe anaphylaxis attack a few years ago, when I was 15, and ate something with cashews in it. My allergy to cashews and pistachios is severe enough that there is a chance that inhaling airborne particles could potentially trigger an anaphylaxis response. However, that doesn’t mean that such a situation can only be avoided by a complete ban on nuts, either in school or elsewhere. There was no ban on tree nuts through all my years of school, and my parents routinely ate nuts I was allergic to at home in front of me. Still, the only time I had a reaction was when I actually ingested cashews.

    So my feeling is that, while caution should be exercised, both by school administrators, parents, teachers, and children themselves, to make sure that precautions are taken to protect children with severe nut allergies, as someone with a severe tree nut allergy myself, I think an all-out ban is overly restrictive, and unnecessary, as it doesn’t offer much more significant protection for children than if other precautions were taken, like not allowing the sharing of food, or making sure that students with severe allergies are not seated next to children who have brought those foods for lunch. It would be more of an administrative hassle, but it would be just as effective as a ban on a food, which places a greater burden on parents and children.

    While some have tried to shame “selfish” parents who want to be able to pack their children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or perhaps other nut butter sandwiches, for a lot of parents of picky eaters, finding an alternative to PB&J is a much more Herculean task than you might imagine. And putting this burden on hundreds of parents for the modest additional protection it might offer for the small minority of students who have that particular allergy simply seems unreasonable to me, not to mention that it offers no such protection for students with any other type of severe food allergy, which might si I larks trigger anaphylaxis. Therefore, I believe, while well-intentioned, a ban on one particular type of food is impractical, and ultimately offers little more protection than could otherwise be achieved through other reasonable precautions.

  5. I myself am not allergic to peanuts, which are technically legumes, but I am allergic to almost all tree nuts; I carry an EpiPen, and suffered a severe anaphylaxis attack a few years ago, when I was 15, and ate something with cashews in it. My allergy to cashews and pistachios is severe enough that there is a chance that inhaling airborne particles could potentially trigger an anaphylactic response. However, that doesn’t mean that such a situation can only be avoided by a complete ban on nuts, either in school or elsewhere. There was no ban on tree nuts through all my years of school, and my parents routinely ate nuts I was allergic to at home in front of me. Still, the only time I had a reaction was when I actually ingested cashews.

    So my feeling is that, while caution should be exercised, both by school administrators, parents, teachers, and children themselves, to make sure that precautions are taken to protect children with severe nut allergies, as someone with a severe tree nut allergy myself, I think an all-out ban is overly restrictive, and unnecessary, as it doesn’t offer much more significant protection for children than if other precautions were taken, like not allowing the sharing of food, or making sure that students with severe allergies are not seated next to children who have brought those foods for lunch. It would be more of an administrative hassle, but it would be just as effective as a ban on a food, which places a greater burden on parents and children.

    While some have tried to shame “selfish” parents who want to be able to pack their children peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or perhaps other nut butter sandwiches, for a lot of parents of picky eaters, finding an alternative to PB&J is a much more Herculean task than you might imagine. And putting this burden on hundreds of parents for the modest additional protection it might offer for the small minority of students who have that particular allergy simply seems unreasonable to me, not to mention that it offers no such protection for students with any other type of severe food allergy, which might similarly trigger anaphylaxis. Therefore, I believe, while well-intentioned, a ban on one particular type of food is impractical, and ultimately offers little more protection than could otherwise be achieved through other reasonable precautions.

  6. Not only are peanuts not banned at our schools, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is offered every day as a 2nd choice at lunch. Even if they stupidly joined the no nuts hysteria my kid would still be ok because it’s written into his IEP that he can have peanut butter.

    1. I love that your snowflake has an IEP for peanut butter, but you think it’s stupid to protect children’s LIVES. Typical.

  7. My child DOES have the right to peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. We had it included in his IEP.

  8. This comment section is a very unsympathetic place.

  9. “If that’s ALL your kid will eat, you’re failing as a parent. My kid is handicapped and will eat more than that.”

    Wow really! So because my child has a sensory processing disorder I fail as a parent huh? My daughter falls in the category of eating oeanut butter on white bread…we currently have speech therapy involved to help with the issue..how dare you shame other parents for their child’s eating issues….and to throw out a ridiculous statement like that is just insensitive and insane..

  10. If that’s ALL your kid will eat, you’re failing as a parent. My kid is handicapped and will eat more than that.

    Well way to mommy shame…I’m that “failure” of a parents..why? Because my 4yr old has a sensory processing disorder..I’m such a failure that I have speech therapy involved for months now trying to get her to stop gagging at foods and looking like she is going to be sick from sitting at a dinner table at home or in a restaurant from the mere smell of other foods.. my failure as a parent huh? Sorry your child is handicapped but don’t throw that in someone’s face to mame them feel even worse about their situation …
    Yes it sucks my child eats nothing but peanut butter on white bread…but I’ve stopped asking folks if their child has a peanut allergy when I’m in a public place and need to whip out a sandwich to feed my hungry kid…I’m sorry kids have peanut allergies .. but my kid needs to eat too…it’s not right to shame others…you don’t think it causes anxiety for us to have a meal at home…until you have experienced the other side of the stor don’t sit on your high horse and shame others….it’s a shame to see someone stoop so low to so that to another parent. If you want to debate fine..have an educated discussion and leave the sarcasm and insults somewhere else

  11. I would like to remind everyone that peanut allergy is not the only and most deadly allergy school children face.
    There is an allergy to water(technically it is not a “true” allergy because the body reacts a little differently but it acts the same) an allergy to heat, an allergy to cold, an allergy to glue, paper, grass, trees, flowers, yadayadayada.
    Those are all real. And yet should we ban water from schools? Air conditioners? Heaters? Glue? Paper? Grass from school yards? Trees? Flowers?
    The answer is of course we should. We should force the school to accommodate our children, instead of doing the rational thing and home schooling.
    We should teach our kids that they are just like everyone else despite the fact that they are not.
    They do deserve a “normal” life as some have put it, even if they take out all the things that make it “normal” for everyone involved.
    Also, since kids sometimes suffer from social anxiety, no interaction at school should allowed. And no running or walking either, since some kids can’t do that. And no advanced thought. And no reading. And no talking. Everyone just sit there and be quiet.

    (In case you couldn’t tell, I’m guilty of being a bit sarcastic)

  12. My child’s life is more important than a child getting the to choose the lunch they prefer!

  13. Cristóbal Miguel Sánchez says:

    The misconception would be that a food ban, practically speaking, helps you to achieve the outcome you’re looking for. It’s not that the intention’s not good, it’s just that realistically, from a practical point of view, can you truly reduce the chance of accidental exposure by having a food ban? The data that is out there suggests that it’s not an effective intervention.

    There is also a bit or irony here, since exposing children to foods at an early age makes an allergy less likely, a culture of avoidance tends to make allergies more common, creating a self-reinforcing loop.

    Too sweeping a set of restrictions triggers resentment and frustration. Where you see the backlash is where people feel that what is being asked of the whole community is not realistic, or not something that can be maintained. Banning peanuts would then provide a false sense of security that could lead school officials to “let their guard down” in terms of being prepared to deal with severe allergic reactions as a result of peanut allergy. And, of course, banning peanuts could lead to the banning of other foods or activities – why not ban milk as well, which is a common food allergy? Or ban children who have cats at home, who might carry pet dander on their clothes?

    This is termed a “slippery-slope” argument: Once one food is banned for the safety and benefit of a few children, where do we stop?

    The National Centers for Disease Control and others do not endorse school-wide food bans as the way to address allergies. I happen to agree with them for the reason above and more.

  14. Keep Little Lord Fauntleroy at home and homeschool.

  15. I came across this article while doing some research for a book about stupid things people say in defense of being stupid, when it comes to serious issues like peanut allergies. I wanted to share a short story with you.

    When my granddaughter, Ellie, was five, her mom put her in YMCA day camp for the summer. She explained Ellie’s allergy to the center director and asked what accommodations they could make. The director told her they couldn’t refuse to allow other kids to bring peanut butter because they knew it would make a lot of parents angry, and the best they could offer to was put her at a table where she could eat alone, and only kids who did not have peanut butter (or other peanut products) would be allowed to sit with her. The whole family worried about Ellie being singled out like that, but if it was the best they would do, we’d live with it.

    Our concern lasted one day.

    On the second day of camp, I went to pick her up for her mom who was working late. Ellie came running over to me, “Nana, Nana, I got to sit with ALL MY FRIENDS for lunch today. ALL OF THEM. PLUS SOME OTHER KIDS, TOO! I looked over at the worker who was sitting at the checkout desk with a puzzled expression. She smiled at me and said, “yesterday, we made a special table for Ellie and we told everyone that only the kids who didn’t have peanut butter were allowed to sit with Ellie for lunch. There were only a few kids without peanut butter (camp is ages 5-11 and they have approx 50 kids each day) and only 3 of them knew Ellie, so they sat with her. Today, as kids were coming in, their parents were telling me some version of “she doesn’t have peanut butter in her lunch. Their child came home and told them that Ellie was allergic to peanut butter and could they please pack something else because they loved her and didn’t want to kill her.””

    That made me laugh and it made me cry. When I read things like Katherine’s outrageous post, it makes me think about how quickly and willingly these kids were to give up something they loved to be able to sit next to a little girl who couldn’t be around it.

    What I’d like to say to people like Katherine is this: How about asking your child how they feel? Explain to them that there’s a child in their school that could die from that sandwich that is so important to you that they have in their lunchbox. I’ll bet even the pickiest eater will have more compassion than you do.”

  16. It seems to me that what we need here is some common sense. When you need for other parents to pack a different lunch then you need cooperation. Calling someone a failure as a parent might not be the best strategy.
    A separate lunch table can help but the school also needs to make sure that kids wash their faces and hands after they eat. Lunch tables and chairs need to be wiped down as well. All school staff need training to deal with allergic reactions.

  17. Okay, calling someone with a picky eater a fail of a parent is out right *WRONG*. You know, some kids can’t swallow or digest certain foods and nut butter on bread is the one of the only things they CAN eat. What are you gonna do when your child goes to work in the future? Is your child gonna ask the manager of the job to request that NOBODY eats anything made with peanuts? Schools don’t need a BAN. They need a rule where you wash your hands and face and they need to learn how to properly clean down tables, chairs, etc. The school staff should learn how to deal with these situations and keep epi-pens on hand just in case. Oh, and, the title of the page, “Your Child Does Not Have The Right To Eat Peanut Butter” is outrageous.

    This is coming from someone with a SEVERE peanut allergy and black bean allergy – ever since I was born.

  18. Sooo, I did the research…the stats you’re quoting were published by a lobbyist. In actuality about 10 people die of a food allergy via shock and that stat is relatively stable. Not all deaths are children and most children deaths involved an incident outside of a school.

    I found this:
    We don’t need to rely on estimates for numbers of food allergy deaths because we have actual data. Since about 1998, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have been tracking the number of food allergy deaths just as they track all the other causes of death across the United States. When someone dies in the US, his death certificate data is pumped into a massive database and indexed according to the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, Injuries, and Causes of Death (ICD-10), a standardized system developed by the World Health Organization. ICD-9, the previous standard, did not have a code for food allergy deaths, but now we have solid data for almost ten years. The underlying number of food allergy deaths according to ICD-10 codes isn’t publicly available in CDC databases because it is so small—statistically insignificant, according to the CDC. A call to the CDC press office revealed that the number of deaths from food allergies, as collected from 2.5 million death certificates across the country, is miniscule. Only eleven people died from food allergies in 2005, the last year for which we have data available. More people died from lawnmower accidents.

    The most recent stats support this although the rate of reported allergies is rising among children.

    I agree with the above poster. The answer isn’t to control any population via but bans. When people confront a fear they tend to react by extering forms of control mistake only thinking that control is a solution when no, control or the illusion that you can control others simply masks your fear. You only control yourself!

    The solution is what the above poster named most especially hygiene practices. Think of Joseph Lister discovering that deadly infection was caused by dirty conditions – filthy hospitals, filthy instruments, stale or no fresh air and physicians not washing their hands or wearing clean clothing. Rather than banning foods teach children the benefits of cleaning up and washing up AFTER they eat especially as you couldn’t possibly ban every allergen…Some people only know they are allergic when they have that first reaction.

    My own sister came very, very close to dying of anaphylactic shock as an infant. My brother suffered a years long allergy to milk that went undiagnosed as he cried incessantly but couldn’t speak yet. Every doctor called my mom crazy and missed it. She felt incredibly guilty. She fed my sister soy just in case but found her unresponsive in her crib. An RN she did a quick pin prick test and when my sister had zero reaction she rushed her to the hospital and saved her life – in 1962 long before epi pen.

    It’s not as simple as banning peanuts.

    BTW: eating PB is a liberty right. But then you have a right of safety. You have an interest and a right both private and public. An entitlement is different. A tax break that only GM receives is an entitlement as is any direct payment made by DC to you…Peanut butter sandwiches aren’t an entitlement, lol.

  19. I just want to ask these parents who believe that children should not be allowed to have products containing peanut butter, eggs, nuts, fish, etc.. because of an allergic reaction with their child. An argument I here quite often is that even though schools may clean tables Excedrin they may not clean them well enough for the children not to be exposed. What happens if my child eats toast with peanut butter for breakfast and then comes to school, plays on the swing set, with toys, touches the table etc with the oils of the peanut butter? Today when dropping my daughter off at school I noticed she has some peanut putter in her hair when and on her hand still from the last bite of toast she ate before we were walking to school. Are we going to be asked to stop feeding our children certain foods at home too? I’m not at all trying to be unsympathetic, because my daughter also was born with several congenital anomalies I would not want her to be treated any differently because of them but I would also not ask people to change their lives due to her anomalies .

    1. If it saves a live, I’ll get rid of all the peanut butter at home, too. But then again I actually give a shit about other people. Not everyone was born with that gene, I guess.

  20. If they were that worried that their child would die would they send them to school? Maybe the life of the child isn’t worth the inconvenience of home schooling. Lets just inconvenience normal kids whose parents gave kids peanut butter early so they wouldn’t grow up sensitive cry babies afraid of their shadow. Keep em home snd give em a participation trophy.

    1. Wow…so much here. What if the family absolutely *needs* both parents working to have a livable income, or *gasp* is a single parent family? Homeschooling is a blessing I’m grateful for as a mom to children with multiple severe food allergies, but not everyone has that option.

      My son is also on the Autism spectrum, and the team of clinicians who diagnosed him tried to browbeat me into putting him into public school, despite his numerous allergies, because it wasn’t fair to deprive him socially just because [I am] overprotective.” I had already been through the trauma of witnessing some horrific reactions in my son, so I told them he had no place in a public school classroom and moved on. But, they had put on some intense pressure and I can imagine that other moms being made to feel like the thing they were doing to protect their child was actually bad for them might give in and put the kid in public school.

      I fed my kids allergenic things early (even with a family history of allergies on my husband’s side) in order to cut allergies off at the pass, partly because members of my family were essentially bullying me into it. I ended up – as I said above – getting to witness some horrific reactions, and having a child whose then undiagnosed autoimmune condition was triggered by all those commonly allergenic foods, and who now has 22 severe food allergies as a result. So not everyone with an allergy has one because their parents were afraid to feed that food. Many factors can lead to the development of food allergies, most substantial of all being leaky gut, not WHEN a food is introduced.

      Judging others certainly makes it easier for us to justify our own lack of compassion, but it does not have the magical effect of making us actually right. Life is more complex than we like it to be, so we oversimplify.

      That’s not to say that a ban is or isn’t the answer. Just that your “logic” is based on faulty assumptions.

  21. It´s good that you did it!

    Better now than later!

    And also peanut butter kills orangutans… I heard something like that

  22. Paranoia will get you nowhere, neither will calling other peoples’ kids “snowflakes” or calling parents failures. You act all righteous, but don’t want to compromise or seek a solution that works for everyone.

    1. Jesus has spoken! True words of wisdom.

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