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to be fed up with allergic children being blamed for school lunchbox policies

(58 Posts)
babybarrister Wed 19-Oct-11 17:46:54

I am a regular on the allergy boards. My DS [4] is anaphylactic to the following [ie may die]:
dairy, eggs, nuts, sesame, lentils, poppy, peas, mustard as well as cats, dogs and horses

He has carried an epipen since he was 3 months old and we have had to use it 4 times. He has been unconscious a number of times - both to food and animals. I have seen him go unconscious to lentils - this is not just an issue of nuts killing, the public need to understand that in some people, of whom my DS and others on here are some, other allergens will also kill them.

I therefore know about serious allergies as I live with them - they are shit.

I accept that not all of the parents of the seriously allergic share the view below that school nut bans are inappropriate but I am pretty sure that the majority do. FWIW it is also the view of our campaign organisation, the Anaphylaxis Campaign

There are a number of vey good reasons why bans do not work:

1. they tend to target only nuts - there are many other allergens which can cause death - see at page 10 for a list of recent known UK fatalities. In children a common allergen is dairy - no school is ever going to ban dairy as an example. My DS is also very, very allergic to sesame - a v common ingredient in "healthy" muesli bars - are these really going to be banned because I can promise all of you MN out there that it is a hell of a lot harder to avoid than you might think - look what happened when the Food Standards Agency tried - and that was just with one allergen

2. no other parent is ever as careful as the DC own parent as we learn what to look out for - did you know that there is cow's milk in fruit juice, in sausages, in salami etc etc? Then there are the lotions and potions with almond oil and peanut oil in, the MMR vaccination based on egg, the cold relief with powdered milk, the vitamins in peanut oil - I could go on and on and on ...

3. the issue of "may contain"/ "made in a factory" is also confusing - as parents of seriously allergic children we all make our own choices on how to view these labels based in part upon particular product types - for example in the manufacture of chocolate the lines are very hard to clean, and also in part on the brands as we have known and trusted brands

4. our DC have to live with the condition. they have to understand from the word go that they cannot eat anyone else's food. Of all the reactions that my DC has had, not one has been caused by him touching or eating anyone else's food

5. re reactions caused not by the ingestion of food, one of the reasons that some airlines ban nuts is because there is limited air as it is recycled so the particles are not dispersed as easily. My DS consultant told me about a case where the same happened when cheesy pizzas were heated up on board a plane - the particles get into the air. there is nothing "worse" about a nut allergy. I cannot possible ask for a ban on all children at my DS school from eating his list of allergens for breakfast - it is nonsense

So the decision by a school to impose a ban is just that, a school's decision. There is a very good chance that the parents of the DC in question did not ask for it or want it. I have just discovered that my DS' school is "nut free" - this is totally meaningless as my DS would avoid anything that obviously looked like a nut anyway - it is the hidden stuff that is a real bastard to avoid. I suspect that they woudl be very surprised if I told them I do not want their nut ban - but I shall!

Angel786 Wed 19-Oct-11 17:49:04

Have yup tried speaking to the school?

babybarrister Wed 19-Oct-11 17:50:42

I am talking about on MN and specifically on AIBU - there are thousands of threads about bloody nut bans and the parents of the allergics spend hours on here putting our [yes mixed] views across - of which I believe the majority are NOT in support of bans - no-one seems to ask us!!

Sirzy Wed 19-Oct-11 17:51:33

I think yab a bit u however can see where you are coming from.

If a ban makes it easier for the school then is that bad? If some parents feel more comfy sending there children to school knowing that one environment is more likely to be safe then there is nothing wrong with that.

Basically what I am saying is it should ideally be a case by case basis,

Just because something is banned it shouldn't for a second replace parents bringing up children to be vigilant and very much doubt it does

worraliberty Wed 19-Oct-11 17:52:54

I don't ask because to be honest I don't care.

My kids aren't allowed nuts at school...not a big deal.

They're not allowed fizzy drinks, chocolate or most junk foods either...again not a big deal.

Angel786 Wed 19-Oct-11 17:53:07

Ah sorry op, just saw the other thread. My dd is not at nursery yet but if a ban were in place for others' safety I wouldn't mind anyway.

BeyondLimitsOfTheLivingDead Wed 19-Oct-11 17:53:53

But a ban doesnt make it easier for a school, it just lulls them into a false sense of security?

GalaxyWeaver Wed 19-Oct-11 17:58:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hocuspontas Wed 19-Oct-11 18:03:51

But schools are between a rock and a hard place. If there are two children with serious nut allergies and one set of parents want a nut-free environment and the other set don't, what is the solution?

Kytti Wed 19-Oct-11 18:33:57

I'm with the OP - nut bans are ridiculous. Nuts (let's pick on that one, as it appears most popular, shall we?) are a fabulous food that are great to give your children for a healthy snack. When we're all being told not to give children sweets / sugar / crisps etc, what could be better than a completely natural product?

As the babybarrister rightly points out, avoiding a nut in a lunchbox is easy... (why are children in a position to swap food anyway?) avoiding them in 'hidden' places is the real problem. She knows what she's talking about.

When did we turn into such PC sheep?

Are we going to ban bees from the playground? hmm

If my school banned nuts, I'd make a point of sending them to school with a nice slice of healthy nut roast.


PenguinsAreThePoint Wed 19-Oct-11 18:40:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BOOareHaunting Wed 19-Oct-11 18:42:34

babybarrister you make a very good point.

I agree with you totally. (its youarekidding btw!) As you know my DS is allergic to ketchup and 2 weeks ago had a hive when in a room with children eating it hmm He was OK obviously! The school do ketchup on a Friday and I have argued with county that he doesn't need an allergy form about eating school menu as ketchup is an extra - therefore not included in the meal.

I simply stated what it needs is for him to refuse it and for people to know why. The school, the school cook and now county agree with me. grin

libelulle Wed 19-Oct-11 18:52:04

This gets me too, partly because I'm unlucky enough to have a dd allergic to dairy, but lucky enough that she is not allergic to nuts. Nut butter is one of her main sources of fat and protein, since milk/cheese/butter are out. Nursery lunchboxes are a nightmare - we aren't allowed to send her with nuts or seafood, and they won't reheat meat or fish or rice. Add in the usual 3 year old peculiarities when it comes to what they will and won't eat, and we're pretty much down to hummus sandwiches daily. It's ironic that those most inconvenienced by the various bans are actually the very children they are seeking to protect.

BOOareHaunting Wed 19-Oct-11 19:57:46


RitaMorgan Wed 19-Oct-11 20:07:28

I would hope most people realise that "nut bans" are school decisions rather than the fault of allergic children/their parents!

I agree with you though - just banning one allergen is pointless. And schools should be able to manage children with allergies without banning things.

AndiMac Wed 19-Oct-11 20:08:31

Thanks for posting this babybarrister. I never thought much about where these bans came from and always assumed it must start with the family of the child with an allergy. I shall now be more open to the idea that it wasn't necessarily their idea.

babybarrister Wed 19-Oct-11 21:08:17

I assume [though do not know] that my DS must be one of the most severely allergic children the school has had but they have never asked us and I have never heard of anyone else on allergy boards being asked whether they would actually like a ban - I stand to be corrected though!

RantyMcRantpants Wed 19-Oct-11 21:18:01

It is weird isn't it. We have the no nuts thing in our school but I have 2 boys who if they have gluten are very ill but don't see schools banning sandwiches and pasta and cous cous etc. Thankfully the do tend to know what they can and can't eat though I had to have a word because the after school club gave them rice krispie cakes to eat and insisted that they could have them when my boys said no. So obviously the boys had them and quelle suprise were ill.

The Worlds Gorn Mad I tells Ya!

EdithWeston Wed 19-Oct-11 21:36:33

I've found thus thread really informative. Could I ask two things:

a) should this apply in the same way in nurseries (as younger children might not yet self-police effectively)?

b) what is the view on rules about items banned from being brought in for junk modelling? (Our school insisted on checking ingredients labels on empty boxes)

babybarrister Wed 19-Oct-11 21:48:03

a) I think so - others do not - but only on proviso that there is good supervision at eating times
b) no thanks as generally this is for younger kids so no egg boxes etc etc

DogsBeastFiend Wed 19-Oct-11 22:04:13

I'm not qualified to say much about your OP apart from that it's very well put, food for thought (excuse the pun) and that I understand where you're coming from.

I've seen it from the other side. A family member's DC is severely allergic to tree nuts. When the DC was about to move up to secondary school her mum put up a HUGE fight with the LA, involving lawyers, going to an appeals tribunal against the allocated school offer (though not just about the nut issue, I know that mum was against the DC going to this poorly performing school though she of course didn't make this arguement to the appeals panel). She refused to send her DD to the allocated school as it couldn't guarantee that it was nut free and fought to send the child to another, over subscribed school which claimed to be nut free.

Along with her views on the allocated school she really did think that her child would be as safe as possible in her preferred choice. Going on that I think that there are parents who would argue against your POV and schools too. Whether they are right or not, I can't say - having read your OP I suspect not.

SurprisEs Wed 19-Oct-11 22:17:29

A ban on any kind of healthy food is ridiculous in my view. The school should be informed by the parents that the child is allergic to so-and-so and then the school should keep that child supervised at meal times (without helicoptering the child and making them feel awkward).

DD used to go to nursery (she's 2yrs) and I regularly took a snack with me when I picked he up. I never gave it to her until we were outside because at that age kids steal food from each others hands at times so allergies worried me. But as they get older things are more manageable.

I'd never dream of blaming parents though, it's health an safety once again taken to extremes by the authorities.

EdithWeston Wed 19-Oct-11 22:51:15


slavetofilofax Wed 19-Oct-11 23:02:07

Our school has a nut ban, and because one of the teachers is allergic, the ban is enforced quite heavily. I would have though she would have your knowledge and be in a position to challange the ban, but no such luck!

bruffin Wed 19-Oct-11 23:09:26

Agree with you babybarrister
What gets me is whenever there is a thread on here about nut policy, there is usually hundreds of posts from parents saying YABU because the child might die!!!!!!, but they have no idea about allergies themselves, but all the posts from parents with experience of allergies say that they don't want nut bans.
DH and DS both have nut/seed allergies and DS has managed to get through both junior and now in yr11 without either school having a nut ban.

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