Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nut Whining..

Trajan's school has always had a no-peanut policy. It was the only school-wide allergy policy and this made some sense as there are a handful of kids across several grades who have varying degrees of peanut allergies.  All other allergies were handled at the classroom level and according to the severity of the allergy, the age of the kids and the responsibility of the kid with the allergies.  Still seems reasonable. 

Then they decided this year to go nut-free.  A little irritating, but since there is a reasonable frequency of cross-reactivity between tree nuts, I didn't whine at all (well, or just to Paul).

I have an anaphylactic food allergy to cinnamon and so I get the significance of food allergies.  I also experienced Trajan's allergic enterocolitis/protein intolerance and so understand the challenges of reading labels.  If an allergy is severe enough that being in a room with it can cause a reaction, steps should be taken to ensure the safety of that child.  The total number of food allergies in any one classroom, or even larger groups that eat together, shouldn't impose too significant of a restriction on families for planning snacks and lunch.

I definitely think that it is important to educate the child in the importance of being careful about what they ingest.  This is possible from a very young age.  I have a friend with a child who had PKU who definitely had this concept down cold by the time he was two.  That said, particularly with preschool-aged kids, being a little extra safe and eliminating the likelihood of their coming across the food as well as educating them about it seems wise.

I'm sure it's obvious by now that there is something that I do object to.  And there is.  Trajan came home the other day and said that he had gotten in trouble for having a sunflower seed butter sandwich and that no butters were allowed.  No sunflower, no pumpkin, no soy, no sesame, no nothing.  Seriously?  And this is with no kid in the entire school having an allergy.  The best answer I've been able to get is that butters seem to be more likely to cause allergies.  I've got an email into someone who I hope will give me an official answer, but so far it sounds like they really are saying no butters.

Taking sunflower seed butter as the specific example, since it is the one we were using, there is definitely a risk of a food allergy, but it is relatively low.  If they were to not allow all foods with this level of allergy, they would also need to put a ban on cinnamon, celery and tomatoes. 

Oh, and we are careful to purchase a sunflower seed butter that is not produced on machines that also produce tree nut products.

Is it a litigious society?  It is laziness and it's easier to just ban everything?  I'm thinking it is the latter because Trajan actually said that at first the aide just told him that he wasn't allowed to have a sandwich.

So, am I being unreasonable?  Do you think that a blanket ban on all "butters" as well as any product containing a tree nut is the best policy?  Note, there are kids with non-tree nut allergies whose allergens are allowed in the school such as strawberries and melons.

There are also a number of children of vegetarian and vegan households at the school, so this policy seems like it would definitely negatively impact the ability to get protein into their snacks and lunches.

Whining completed.

Unrelated picture except for the fact that Chiron is wearing food and the topic included food.  Also, we could feed Chiron the sunflower seed butter and he's not allowed to have any dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, tree nuts of any type, fish, shellfish or red meat.


  1. Just got an email and the resolution is a bit anticlimactic. Got confirmation that Trajan was told that he couldn't bring it, but this should not have happened. The administrator is going to send a note to teh staff confirming that sunflower butter is allowed and also clarifying that it is only products that are nuts which are not allowed.

  2. Dang, that's harsh! Really restrictive. My daughter doesn't have a nut allergy (thank goodness!) but she chooses not to eat meats. I.e. if she's served a meat, she politely refuses it and if you pressure her, she'll throw a fit, cry, gag, and then throw up. And she's almost nine years old. All that to say that we have trouble getting her to consume enough protein and nuts are her best source. Funny, she doesn't like peanuts or peanut-products at all. Almonds are her fave and Nutella is her spread of choice.

  3. Good grief, if they start objecting to foods that "might" cause allergies, there will literally be nothing for the children to eat. I mean, good LORD!
    Like you said, I understand safety, I really do. And I would hate for a child to suffer because the schools were lax about this. But gracious! I feel for you, Mom! I hope you get some good answers from the school -- and a change of policy.