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Those of you with Nut allergy Children, would you come and help solve this please. Pre school issues.

(18 Posts)
girrafey Wed 14-Sep-11 19:54:54

My ds has attended a pre school for a year and my dd2 has just started.
There is an option for you to take the "lunch club" as part of the funding option rather than do 5 mornings. This follows on from the pre school session but is not part of it. You can also choose to pay for this, (as i do with dd2 so she matches ds) Packed lunches are taken.

Last year there was a polite notice in the information pack, and on the door stating that due to allergies etc No nuts, kiwi, or celery were to be taken in.

No problem there. Happily checked fruit bars etc and as far as i know, there was no problems with anyone taking anything in.

Now this year, a few children (ds included) have had certain bits of their lunch convisgated. The reason being that the packaging states one of the warnings about nuts.

Apparantly a new child is starting who is allergic, so the staff are getting extra strict. Fair enough. This i understand.

HOWEVER. where do you draw the line. Apparently we are not allowed to take in any food unless 100% clear of all nuts!
Any warnings at all like "produced in a factory that uses nuts" is not allowed.

I 100% back no nuts and even happy to oblige to "contains nut traces" or "Not suitable for nut allergy" but 80% of the food these days has some form or other of warning on it.

Some mums are saying child should avoid lunch club until old enough to understand not to touch other peoples food.

Another suggestion is that mum comes in and "helps" at lunch club, so she can sit next to and make sure no cross contamination.

The childs mum is saying everyone has to comply so child not excluded.

I am thinking along the lines of no nuts, traces or not suitable food.
But child should be seated at end of table maybe with staff next to them.
All children explained not to touch each others food. ( they are not allowed anyway but extra strict maybe)

But allowing the other children to eat their food as normal. (with no nuts, not suitable, may conatin traces being avoided)

Also that the days that the chid is staying for lunchclub to be published on door so that extra vigilant on that day, but just no nuts stuck to on other days.

If you have an allergic child would you be happy with this? how would you like this to be resolved.

How do schools etc cope with this as they are on a larger scale so therefore can not police it aswell as pre school can.

What happens with other events such as cream that contain nut oil? (a pescription medicine at that)

Any advice will be great. I do not think we should exclude this child, but feel a compromise ( that is safe for them) should be reached.

clarence1972 Wed 14-Sep-11 21:24:55

my children are anaphylactic to nuts and have eaten at nursery without problems, nuts were banned but not anything that said "may contain" etc. the nursery staff simply gave adequate supervision and ensured that food was not shared. also all children washed hands and faces after lunch as standard.

I have to say that it all sounds a bit extreme to ban all foods with a nut warning..... my children dont eat them as they have reacted to them but I have never had a problem with others eating them nearby.

vigglewiggle Wed 14-Sep-11 21:34:45

My DD has a nut allergy and has just started at pre-school. The (very good) allergy nurse we saw advised that there was no point observing the warnings about "produced in a factory that also produces products containing nuts". She explained that there is no legal requirement for food manufactures to include these warnings and no standardisation or regulation. Therefore the advice is meaningless.

Therefore we have asked the preschool to request that parents try not to send items containing nuts and the pre-school and keep an eye on DD to make sure she is not pinching other children's lunch. We have not asked them to ban or confiscate anything shock.

I know this nurse was really helpful and offered to come to pre-school to talk to staff and demonstrate how to use an epi-pen, so it may be worth asking the pre-school to make contact with an allergy specialist to get some sensible advice.

Clara35 Wed 14-Sep-11 21:49:44

Maybe the school being overcautious as haven't dealt with a nut allergy before. Does seem extreme as a lot of the time the warning on packaging about made in factory that handles nuts is to cover the manufacturers back. Having said that I understand the mum's fear & how as a parent you don't want your child to be different. Maybe just go with it for now as once you start looking at packets for ingredients you will find plenty of alternatives & it's only lunch on school days & not every meal like the child with allergies. Maybe the school will relax it as they get used to dealing with it. My ds is allergic to egg & dairy & I wish I could ban them from his nursery for the sake of my nerves lol! smile

babybarrister Wed 14-Sep-11 22:30:54

I think it is huge over reaction and totally agree with vigglewiggle that the "warnings" are meaningless as they do not indicate levels of possible contamination.

i am not a fan of "bans" in any event [DS anaphylactic to nuts, dairy, eggs, sesame and various other things ,,,,,,] - I simply do not believe that other children's parents are as vigilant as we would be

girrafey Thu 15-Sep-11 08:18:15

Thank you all very much for taking time to reply. Wll follow up with speaking to specialist (well pta) and will see if a compromise can be reached.
Thank you again.

freefrommum Thu 15-Sep-11 10:01:22

I completely agree with babybarrister, it's a huge over reaction and pretty pointless. I don't really see the point of total bans as life is not nut free and you could brush past someone eating a Snickers bar on the street or sit next to someone on a park bench etc. It's better to have a good care/management plan to try to prevent reactions as far as possible and deal with them properly when they do occur. My DS is severely allergic to milk, wheat, eggs and nuts and I obviously wouldn't expect any school to ban all of those things, we just have to put measures in place to try to avoid any severe reactions and hope that it works!

bruffin Thu 15-Sep-11 10:18:05

The anaphylaxis campaign have guidance for schools, maybe you can print those off and give them to the nursery, it does sound really over the top.

When ds started school, they didn't want him to have school dinners even though they didn't include nuts in their meals, but the consultant said that was ridiculous and included that in his letter to us, so school relented.

allday Thu 15-Sep-11 10:26:20

I think its a huge over reaction. Dd's school doesn't have a ban on anything and I am glad as it avoids people trying to convince her that she can share stuff in packed lunches because they must be safe. It is terrifying when you child goes into the world and preschool children might grab stuff but she needs to be supervised properly. I also don't believe other parents will be vigilant. A girl in dds school who is allergic to nuts, peanuts, dairy and eggs has friends who sit with her at lunchtime whose parents have agreed to not send those things in lunchboxes. She ended up sitting next to a girl who was eating peanut covered pretzels. Other people forget.

hobbithills Fri 30-Sep-11 16:47:06

We have a similar issue with prizes and cakes at PTA events. There is a child at the school who are allergic to nuts, and I suggested that if we ever asked parents to bring in cakes for a cake stall etc, we were to ask for ingredients to be marked, and for no nuts to be in any cakes, and a warning/disclaimer on the stall. I assumed this would reduce the risk to asseptable limits. However its maybe that we are not allowed to have parents making cakes anymore due to 'risks'.

Also we may not be able to have little chocolates (you know the ones, coins etc ..in the nets, with no nuts, but not necessarily guaranteed nut free) We need to buy kinnerton chocolate in case the child with a nut allergy wins one on a stall.

Its a tricky issue as it is a life threatening thing, however there has to be some middle ground, it would be an impossible task to make a school or preschool guaranteed nut free all the time.

alison222 Fri 30-Sep-11 16:56:01

DS is anaphylactic to nuts eggs and fish.
He has had packed lunch in school since he started. The school is supposed to be nut free, but people often don't remember or care recognise how dangerous it can be to someone with an allergy.
Having said that I do not expect that they can police this to the nth degree and given the number of allergies DS has it would be unreasonable of me to expect all these substances to be banned from the school. We have had a couple of allergic reactions ( he is now year 6) but not in the lunch hall - mainly afterwards and we have to assume from contact with a door handle or some such with a child with something allergenic has touched with dirty hands.
What you can expect is supervision of the allergic child to make sure that he doesn't eat the wrong food and to be asked to send in things without nuts.

DS is allergic to nuts and I do not avoid "made in a factory that uses nuts" only the ones that say "made in a factory that uses the same lines with other nut containing products" or some such - and chocolate because although not labled as such is frequently contaminated by nuts.

babybarrister Sat 01-Oct-11 09:38:44

There was a recent aibu about packed lunch police along same lines....

babybarrister Sat 01-Oct-11 09:44:45

being_unreasonable/1309644-to-be-annoyed-with-the-school-about-packed-lunch-police
Sorry iPad novice ...! Cannot copy and paste well yet ....

babybarrister Sat 01-Oct-11 10:04:38

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/am_i_being_unreasonable/1309644-to-be-annoyed-with-the-school-about-packed-lunch-police

now on computer at home!

greenbananas Sat 01-Oct-11 19:46:02

I think it is unhelpful and over the top for the pre-school to do this (and I speak as somebody who has a dairy, egg and nut free home and is planning to run a childminding business on that basis!) In the pre-school context, it perhaps risks stigmatising the allergic child, as other parents are bound to be resentful and to gossip about his allergies.

As others have so wisely said, in a general pre-school setting, it's probably not a good idea to even try to make the whole place completely allergen free. In that environment, it can't be done. Other parents can't be relied on to be as careful as we 'allergy parents' would be, and it lulls the staff into a false sense of security. It makes more sense for them to aim for keeping the setting as allergy-free as is reasonable, and making sure that the allergic child is only exposed to foods which are safe; also that all children wash their hands after eating.

Our house is almost totally 'allergen free' because I think my son ought to be able to relax as far as possible in his own home (he is still careful, and doesn't touch guests' coffee cups!) I have decided not to send him to pre-school because he is so touch-sensitive and I don't really trust the local staff to stay on top of it sad. However, if I found the right setting (i.e. where the staff were really clued up and could keep him physically and emotionally safe) I would be happy for him to go, and I certainly wouldn't expect them to put the kind of pressure on parents that you are experiencing.

greenbananas Sat 01-Oct-11 19:51:59

hobbithills, bless you for trying so hard. How lovely you are! However, I wouldn't worry more than you have to. Most allergic children are fairly used to not being allowed to eat the same cakes and chocolates as their friends. Also, I wouldn't trust random parents you don't know that well to label their home-made cakes appropriately - you might as well not bother, because there is always the risk of somebody messing up (e.g. not figuring out that marzipan contains nuts, that sort of thing).

About the chocolate: Kinnerton is great, and my DS and I love it, but not all children like it and some non-allergic children might be disappointed to win it as a prize. Could you buy a really 'special' Kinnerton product to keep under the counter to subsitute in case the allergic child wins a product with nuts in?

ByTheWay Sat 01-Oct-11 20:09:04

I think they have gone a bit over the top... if you have a packed lunch from a home that has any nuts in, then there is ALWAYS the possibility of cross contamination. I have peanut butter at home - perhaps the knife was used in the Flora, or the jam??? Perhaps the knife was placed on the worksurface that the "no-nuts" wrapper then laid on... etc.

babybarrister Sun 02-Oct-11 08:45:22

Yes I also meant to say how thoughtful re kinnerton chocolate

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