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January 5, 2006

Safety within reason and being food allergy-aware

With the introduction of the new food labeling law here in the U.S., we've seen a lot of press coverage on the topic. Most articles are, well, pretty pedestrian in terms of really providing value to the reader. However, today I read an article from the Times-Herald Record and felt pretty good about what and how they covered this issue of managing child food allergies at school.

In the article, they describe school food allergy emergency plans, which are developed between the school nurse and the allergic child's parents. In addition to education about the particular food allergies, the school trains staff members in emergency procedures in case a child has a severe reaction to an allergic food. The approach of working closely with the school nurse is something we've seen work time and time again. The nurse can be a huge ally in your efforts to keep your child safe, so protect that relationship.

One school follows "safety within reason" guidelines. There is no school ban on nut products, however, for those young kids with severe food allergies, an adult may accompany them through the lunch line to keep them safe from the wrong foods. The article says many kids who have child food allergies don't eat foods prepared by cafeteria staff anyway. This approach seems prudent and should be acceptable to any reasonable school administrative staff person.

Another school has a portion of the cafeteria designated as a "no-nut" zone and children who have a lunch containing nuts sit in the back of the cafeteria. The principal is quoted as saying, "We can't claim to be a nut-free zone. We call it nut-aware. Our goal is really just to minimize risk to the greatest extent possible."

I'm not sure if the "back of the bus" approach is fair to the non-allergic kids but it great to see the school taking reasonable safety measures.

It is this level-headed approach to education and safety that will promote harmony between the schools and families and really works to benefit all of us who strive to educate other regarding the dangers of child food allergies.

Posted by David at January 5, 2006 8:14 AM