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Packed lunches and allergies

(32 Posts)
Sprinklestar Mon 17-Apr-17 22:55:38

DD is in a cohort at school with a number of children who have allergies to various foods and food groups. I don't know what the right answer is here as obviously some of these conditions are extremely serious. However, the cumulative effect of the list of restrictions on what parents can send in as part of a packed lunch is so restrictive, I'm actually struggling to put together healthy and balanced meals. Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm trying to see it from the point of view of the other parents - it must be awful to think that a certain food could have fatal consequences for you child. All credit to the school for being so strict and enforcing these guidelines. But - at what point do the needs of those with allergies trump those without? Could the children with allergies be seated elsewhere? I'm not just talking peanuts here - the list is endless! No nuts at all, no seeds (inc e.g. no pesto as it contains nuts), no eggs, no products with egg, no hummous/tahini, and then a range of fruit and veg as well. I make dinner so many times and am able to use the leftovers for DS for his pack up the next day but can't do the same with DD. I also don't think it is fair that her diet has to be compromised for the rest of her school days if she stays with this group. As a family we don't eat meat, so at the minute her protein intake at lunchtime is pretty much limited to a cheese sandwich (and not on healthy granary as I'd prefer due to the seed allergy above).

Has anyone come across similar?

EduCated Mon 17-Apr-17 22:58:26

Which fruit and veg?

PurpleMinionMummy Mon 17-Apr-17 23:07:00

I've not come across a school this strict. Nuts are the only thing I've known to be completely banned.

What foods are banned exactly?

Sprinklestar Mon 17-Apr-17 23:07:03

Citrus, so no oranges, satsuma etc, tomatoes, anything tomato-derived (so no sauces for pasta/casseroles with tomato in), ditto peppers. Tomato allergy means we can't send in slices of home-made pizza if they have a tomato base. I know I sound negative but it's so hugely restrictive.

wrinkleseverywhere Mon 17-Apr-17 23:10:04

Do the relevant children have to ingest the food to trigger the allergy or is it being in the air sufficient to trigger a reaction? That should determine whether it should be excluded from all packed lunches or whether the children should be rid not to share & the affected child told not to ask/take other children's foods. Age is also relevant - IME, those children I know with an allergy have been careful around food since being 4, if not before. I would argue that that is too early but I would expect a child to be aware of what they can & can't eat by 7 & for them to be able to ask in unsure.

wrinkleseverywhere Mon 17-Apr-17 23:11:59

I was writing my post as you did your update. That does seem extreme. What are the school dinner offerings? I just chose my DC's meals for the week and most of the dishes include one or more of those offerings.
I know a child with a tomato allergy but she has to actually eat it & sauces etc are OK.

Sprinklestar Mon 17-Apr-17 23:13:21

wrinkles - I don't know. We just have a list. Maybe that's something I can approach the school with. I know they have to be so careful but maybe they're blanket banning everything when in reality they don't need to? I hope so!

PurpleMinionMummy Mon 17-Apr-17 23:19:46

It seems very extreme. We have a lot of allergies in school but most are only an issue if the child actually eats it and the food isn't banned throughout the school (apart from nuts obviously). I've not come across any kids allergic to veg personally. Although many try to tell me they are grin

So you can't send seeds, nuts or citrus?

LittleOwl153 Mon 17-Apr-17 23:19:54

Could you ask the school to bring in a dietician to advise on what is acceptable? You imply there is more on your excluded list than you have posted but i can see so far this is pretty restrictive at first glance. You are potentially a reasonably experienced cook (I say that as you are restricting your own diet being veggie therefore probably cook more from scratch?) But there will certainly be parents who are struggling with proper lunches here. What is the school dinner menu like?

CheeseQueen Mon 17-Apr-17 23:27:15

What is the list of foods you're not allowed to take in? As it's hard to give examples and ideas when we don't know what is not allowed.
For what it's worth, if it's down to allergies as an allergy sufferer and know how severe they can be I'd always co-operate with allergy lists.

StrangeAndUnusual Mon 17-Apr-17 23:30:16

No nuts is pretty standard for primary schools.

I can see the other things are causing restriction. But, packed school lunches are only 5 meals out of the 21 your child eats in a week, so anything they can't have then can be amply made up for in the other 16 meals a week.

I don't see any harm in approaching the school to check whether they are being unnecessarily restrictive. But if this is necessary, then I would approach it from the point of view of working out an acceptable set of lunches and just rotating those. I wouldn't ask school to sit the allergic children elsewhere so that yours can enjoy their lunch. Once you start thinking about it, that's not too nice. Your child will get more out of life from being inclusive than from having whatever they want for lunch.

Sprinklestar Mon 17-Apr-17 23:31:09

The school dinner menu is much more varied and includes lots of banned foods. The pack up children sit separately and classes are sort of staggered - so a couple of year groups at a time. It does make me think that the school are being hyper cautious in some cases by banning so much though. Won't particles of certain foods from other classes be left in the air in the pack up dining hall?

MaudeandHarold Mon 17-Apr-17 23:35:52

I have several Children with anaphylaxis in my school, one in my class. The advice we are given by the consultant and School nurse service is not to exclude foods from school, as children will not be able to be kept away from allergens in the wider community. They are taught to wash hands, not put fingers in mouths (yeah right....) only had two incidents in 12 years,one unknown, and one where parents had given the child his siblings sandwich. It works in our school of 200+ children. I think best advice is not to.exclude/ban foods these days.

Sprinklestar Mon 17-Apr-17 23:37:08

There isn't a list of banned foods in the sense of 'no X cereal bars' Cheese. It's more, nothing containing x, y and z. It's hard when you find that yet another snack/healthy chewy bar/whatever is on the banned list. Please don't think I won't comply with the rules - I really do do my best. And it's not one child who is allergic to all of these things. It's the group of children and their respective allergies combined that's caused a bit of a problem. You're right Strange - we will just have to suck it up. I really hope we have been given the right info though and haven't fallen victim to a 'just in case' scenario, rather than one based entirely in fact.

EweAreHere Mon 17-Apr-17 23:37:25

Nuts is a standard ban if there are children with severe nut allergies in the school. A reasonable ban.

The others ... are they life threatening? Unlike nuts which have 'dust' and is often a life-threatening allergy, they seem over the top to ban from school

Sprinklestar Mon 17-Apr-17 23:38:53

That's really interesting Maud. Our school seems to go the other way. I do wonder what happens if these children pass someone in the street eating or on a bus or elsewhere.

PurpleMinionMummy Mon 17-Apr-17 23:48:38

So what is the x, y and z that foods can't contain? It does seem a little pointless to ban foods from pack ups if they are allowed in hot dinners.

pringlecat Tue 18-Apr-17 00:21:14

If any child will suffer an allergic reaction from being present in a room full of those foods, fair enough. But airborne food allergies aren't anywhere near as common as reactions from consuming food - it's worth clarifying with the school.

Children with allergies need to learn how to cope with living with allergies so they turn into adults with allergies as opposed to, well, dead. That involves learning not to help themselves to interesting looking things in other children's lunch boxes if they don't know what all the ingredients are.

(Speaking as someone who learned that life lesson the hard way!)

UppityHumpty Tue 18-Apr-17 00:29:46

Can you send in salads or cous cous, or rice salads? You said you don't eat meat but what about lentils? Falafal? Homemade wholewheat flat breads such as roti or lavas?

Just giving you examples of what my cousin sends with her dd.

MrsTerryPratchett Tue 18-Apr-17 00:44:30

I think it's all gone a bit ridiculous. DD has an allergy to some nuts. It's not anaphylactic and we still (without asking for it) got a letter home to the class asking no one to bring in those nuts. I told the teacher just in case but not to ban them.

There is a boy in the class who has reacted to fish (once because his best mate shared tuna hmm ) but he was an epi-pen and it`s pretty serious.

citychick Tue 18-Apr-17 01:11:03

I would be switching to school meals if that were the case. It sounds so extreme! And such hard work. For everyone.

OP - can you put your dc on school lunches ?

Pringlecat - I agree with you.

My dc has a boring diet, but mercifully loves nuts and his school has not banned them. We live in Asia and they love nuts. School deals with it case by case.

Can you have a word with the school?

peripateticparents Tue 18-Apr-17 04:25:59

Sprinkle, I would guess that packed lunch kids are put at a separate table, whether they are packed lunch by allergy necessity or by preference. The school may be concerned that those kids might share, as kids are wont to do, and that the allergy kids may ingest something they shouldn't. As a mum to a ds who had multiple allergies (including vegetables), some anaphylactic, I can understand how the school may choose to reduce their risk (particularly when kids are small), by limiting what the kids are exposed to. Having said that, I would never have asked for our allegens to be excluded from the school, though it was a nut free school. Tho the only parent who used to do packed lunches by choice rather than necessity used to send in cashew nut bars (because apparently cashews aren't nuts). Thankfully ds never ate any (nursery supervision), as it's his 'worst' allergy.

Fruitboxjury Tue 18-Apr-17 05:34:03

So no nuts / products with nuts
No seeds
No egg / products with egg
No citrus / products with citrus including tomato, peppers etc
No hummus, tahini (chickpea allergy?!!)
No meat from your household

I can see why this is restrictive and why you're finding it difficult. It seems an odd time in the school year to ask this, has it been newly implemented and if so why now?

Personally I would also find this very difficult, especially if school meals do include the allergens. If the rules are that strict they should apply to all.

I would approach the school and say that especially in your situation as non meat eaters you're compromising your children's diet by excluding these food types. It makes it very hard to include protein since egg and chickpeas are off the list, tuna mayonnaise would be an egg derivative ... and who's going to give their kids smoked salmon sandwiches for lunch every day. Ask for verification that they are all banned including the derivatives, if the allergies are that bad could a staff member sit at the table to oversee sharing etc but why doesn't it apply to school meals?

Some other options to consider are more whole food based salads such as rice salads, lentil salads etc... you can get ready to eat lentils / grains easily or make some rice the night before. Same for a cous cous or pasta salad or other vegetables (green beans, broccoli, carrots etc). It doesn't always have to be sandwich based. They can be sweetened if it helps, there are lovely recipes including fruits like apricot, raisins, pomegranate (citrus???) etc. The Japanese do this all the time. They don't really eat sandwiches, you could look up bento boxes online for some more ideas.

If you are doing sandwiches, cheese is fine as the fats are important. You'll just have to use a bread without seeds. You could alternate sliced cheese with e.g. Cream cheese and cucumber. Pitta pockets filled with salad type things can be more fun too. Things like breadsticks make good alternatives. Bananas are also filling and should be ok, as is a low sugar yoghurt and fruits like apples.

If I were you I would meal plan and try to make leftovers from dinner. A real faff that all the extra effort is probably unnecessary (bar the nuts) though.

Stilllivinginazoo Tue 18-Apr-17 05:52:10

Bar peanuts,which release proteins into the air I can't see why anything else is excluded,esp if hot meals incl banned ingredients.
I can say that as a mum of 4,2 of whom have food allergy's. Nuts is a standard in school.my eldest had sesame seeds(anaphylactic to) flicked at her from burger buns at senior school.she handled situation herself.in real world people enjoy lots foods that others can't eat and learning manage is an important life skill
I would definitely speak to school.my other allergic one can't have citrus or milk,but isn't bothered by others eating cheese sarnys/orange juice/yogurt

MidniteScribbler Tue 18-Apr-17 07:36:27

We had a parent try and join our school recently and request 'no Asian foods' in any classroom or anywhere in the school. Apparently the child was allergic to 'Asian foods'.

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