Peanuts Should Be Illegal

I love peanut butter. I always have.

As a kid, I refused to eat anything else for lunch. It had to be a peanut butter sandwich. My mom always threw an apple in my lunch box, a granola bar, a few cookies, and a thermos of juice. That was all I needed.

Now that I am an adult, I still prefer to have some toast for lunch topped with some creamy peanut butter. I cut up an apple, pour myself a glass of water or juice, and I am good to go.

Of course, I can’t have this lunch at work. Schools have been peanut-free zones for as long as I have been teaching. It’s due to the severe food alergies that a very small portion of school age children have.

I am sure glad that I am not a kid in this day and age. I don’t know what my mom could have possibly packed me for lunch. I begged my mom to make me a peanut butter sandwich for lunch every day. She’d suggest other things, thinking I needed a variety. I really didn’t. Peanut butter is healthy and combined with my apple and juice, I had a balanced lunch every day.

Now, there are a few alternatives to peanut butter on the market. I was excited to try out these products for a few different reasons. First, peanut butter is a low-cost lunch food. It is something that you can keep in the cupboard and always have on standby.

These peanut butter alternatives are pretty good. Many of them look and smell like peanut butter. It’s a perfect solution for all the parents out there who need a cheap and easy lunch food item. Right?

Wrong!

The problem is that this fake peanut butter is too close to the real thing. And in order for schools to be completely safe for the small population who suffer from food alergies, some schools have decided to ban these totally non-harmful alternatives.

I don’t think that is fair. I think we need to educate students, parents, and the community at large about what is and what isn’t acceptable to bring to school, either in a lunch bag, or for a classroom snack.

Food alergies are scary. There is no doubt about that. But I don’t think banning peanuts or anything resembling them is the answer.

What do you think?

Please leave a comment and join in on the discussion.

14 Comments on Peanuts Should Be Illegal

  1. Chase – 21 Nov Hi Chase .. I don't remember food allergies as a kid or realising they were 'serious' for years .. because it didn't affect me or those around me. It came to the fore in Johannesburg when I was working at a food fair and giving samples of soup out .. one child (primary school age) wanted to know what was in the soup and was adamant .. it wasn't til an older family member came along and said he's got a serious allergy and could die if he has those foods – that it sort of sank in.

    Then my goddaughter's brother has a peanut/nut allergy .. and so nuts are banned at their house .. and when I stay with them particularly when the kids were smaller and the first aid was always around and taken with us. I realised the significance of it.

    One occasion they (I wasn't there) were all out for a walk and stopped at a pub for a drink .. staying outside because of muddy boots etc .. and suddenly Simon went into shock and they had to rush him across the fields to the car and hospital .. there'd been some nut residue on the outside table.

    So I do realise the seriousness of it .. and perhaps it's no bad thing to ban some foods – because it will stay in the memory bank that things we take for granted can be dangerous.

    Cheers – have a good week .. Hilary

  2. Hi Hilary,

    I know that I take peanuts for granted. I love them. But, I have no problem baning peanut products from the school.

    I make sure that the cookies I pack are "Peanut free" and I find that most students will actually look for the "no nuts" logo or check the ingredients.

    That's why I don't understand the "no substites" rule, and feel we should be more open to these fake peanut butter products.

  3. I read that serious peanut allergies are usually found in 'well to do' families who keep their houses spotless and germ free in the children's formative years. It's nature's way of saying, "You didn't build up an immune system because your parents aren't allowing nature to take its course… so here's an allergy to something incredibly common that you can't possibly get away from for the rest of your life." People need to let kids be kids, get dirty, and have fun.

    • Hi – That is only true on a population basis, meaning it explains why allergies are more common in the developed world. It is mostly due to increased antibiotics use. It cannot be applied like that to individual families. It is called the hygiene hypothesis.

      • Chase March // July 12, 2015 at 10:37 am //

        Hi Jude,

        Allergies seem to be way too common these days. If we ban things from school that only one person has a sensitivity to, then pretty soon we won’t be able to bring anything in our lunches. I understand the concern and the danger. I really do. I think we just need dedicated lunch room supervisors (one for each room) who know their stuff and police all this stuff for the young children, who, like you say can’t manage it effectively for themselves.

        But schools don’t do that. They have one teacher monitoring four rooms in most cases. There is no way for us to do that now.

  4. Hi R.T.,

    I agree. Kids should be kids. I have seen parents who totally overreact to muddy pants or outfits. I just don't get it. Mud washes off, cool down.

    I don't quite know about the correlation to peanut allergies.

    Almost every school seems to have one or more kids with a serious food allergy. It really is crazy. It wasn't like that when we were kids, I'm sure.

    Thanks for the comment!

  5. Dear R.T.,

    Spoken like a person who has never seen an anaphylactic reaction. I watched my daughter go into anaphylactic shock and nearly die at the tender age of 1 and a half. I assure you, my house is not spotless, nor have I wrapped my children in a germ-free, dirt free bubble. That was a very judgmental statement you just made, and until you've walked a mile in my shoes, you probably shouldn't make such bold statements especially when it has to do with the fragility of a child's LIFE.

    Chase, I agree that the peanut butter substitue rule is a bit harsh. Unfortunately, to keep some kids safe, it has to be done. The smallest trace of peanut butter can be lethal to someone with anaphylaxis. There is no other way to ensure they aren't exposed, so pea butter is out. It's sad for the other kids, but believe me, anaphylaxis is not something worth risking to make another kid happy. It just isn't. As a teacher, I've dealt with this issue many times. I find the opposition frustrating, but at the same time, I'm happy for the families who are fortunate enough to never have seen anaphylaxis. They have never had to teach their baby to read food labels or administer an epi-pen to themselves.

    -Elle

  6. Hey Elle,

    That episode with your daughter must've been the scariest moment of your life. I'm so glad that you both got through it. 🙂

    I know we need to be vigilant about food allergies in the school. I know that, but it seems like we sometimes go too far.

    It's pretty much a given now that peanuts are banned from the schools. I thought the message got through to the parents and the kids. I guess it hasn't completely and I'll have to live with my balogna sandwiches.

    Thanks for enlightening us!

  7. I understand a parent's concern for their children, but to completely ban something in school or work because a small number of children may come in contact with an allergen, is not reasonable. My son goes to school that allows peanut butter in the lunch room and the classroom. At lunch, there is a "peanut free" table that children with allergies can sit at and if there is food in the classroom for a holiday and there is an allergic child, the parent of that child is asked to supply an alternate snack for that child. I think that this is a completely reasonable policy and, to my knowledge, there has never been a problem. Now, before anyone calls me insensitive, or says that I don't really know what it is like to have a child with a peanut allergy, I have a 16 year old niece who is very allergic to peanuts. She is the oldest of three and her parents have always made sure that she is educated about what she can and cannot eat. They keep peanut products in the house. Her younger brother and sister and parents eat them. She stays away. Yes, from time to time she comes in contact with peanuts. Once she even had to go to the emergency room, but she knows that the whole world cannot be expected to change on her account and that she needs to be vigilant about what she eats and comes in contact with.

    • that may be true for your niece, but I would not apply that to all children. Some have allergies much more severe. Small children cannot keep themselves safe in the same way older children can. The frontal cortex of small children’s brains are not well developed which is what causes lapse in small children’s judgement.

  8. Hi PGHGEOLOGIST,

    I agree with you 100%. I was at one school that took it so far to ban all baked goods as well since they couldn't be sure that the cookies or muffins or cakes hadn't come in to contact with nuts at home. It was really frustrating to the parents who liked to bake and bring in treats.

  9. Okay an allergy is one thing but peanut allergies are so severe they can kill people. My sister almost died from a peanut, not because she ate one but because there was one in the room, fact is you selfish people would not be able to understand this situation unless you went through what a lot of families do go through because of peanuts. The doctor actually sat my mum down and told her to be prepared for my sister to die. Imagine that, a family member of yours dying because of some selfish people who decide to ignore the nut free school rule which is there for a reason. You can eat nuts at home don't go getting all angry because you can't eat them in school (for good reason) it's plain selfish and at least you aren't starving somewhere in a poor country, you actually have the luxury of something like peanut butter why get angry and annoyed because you can't ha've it in a school. Eat it at home for crying out loud. Your angry for selfish reasons, I'm sure if a family lost someone because of their severe allergy they would be much more distraught and angry than you could ever be about the fact that you can't have it in school and you know what you should be ashamed. Why don't you be annoyed about something relevant in today's world and not something you have selfish reasons for.

  10. No one can truly understand the nut situation unless they have been through something like that

  11. Hi Shannon,

    Thanks for your comment.

    I don't think it's fair to call me angry or selfish.

    I don't pack anything peanut related in my lunch. I am fine with that for all of the reasons outlined in the post and in the comment section.

    I'm angry that these totally harmless alternatives are banned as well. It really doesn't make any sense in my humble opinion.

    People have all sorts of allergies. Some people are allergic to citrus or lactose. Does that mean we should ban fruit and milk?

    I think it's about education and that's what I tried to do with this post. The more informed we are, the better.

    Thanks!

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