The number of children with food allergies has risen dramatically over the past few decades. According to current estimates, nearly 8% of kids in the U.S. have a food allergy, with the most common being an allergy to peanuts. Attempts to keep these children has resulted in significant debate over whether classrooms and schools should be peanut-free.
The Huffington Postrecently interviewed three doctors — Stanley Fineman, M.D., Scott H. Sicherer, M.D., and Wayne Shreffler, M.D. — about their opinions regarding whether classrooms and schools should be peanut-free in an effort to prevent allergic reactions.
Doctors Weigh In
Dr. Fineman believes that schools should not be peanut-free. He argues that peanut-free classrooms “present a false sense of security” because peanut residue may still be present even in “peanut-free” schools. Children with allergies should always be prepared for an allergic reaction, despite the measures in place to protect them from one. Dr. Shreffler agrees that the peanut-free approach can lead to a false sense of security.
Dr. Scott Sicherer says “There are many ways to manage food allergy in schools.” While he notes that peanut-free classrooms or allergen-safe lunch tables could be useful, he advocates for policies to prevent children from ingesting food likely to cause an allergic reaction, such as policies against using food in craft projects or students sharing or trading lunches. He also notes that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to enforce bans on other common allergens such as milk or egg.
What do you think? Should lunch tables, classrooms, and schools be peanut-free to keep children with peanut allergies safe?