FOUR out of five parents say schools are overly concerned about food bought to school and one in three object to the banning of nuts.
As an allergy nurse specialist and a mum, I can see from a parents point of view, how anxiety inducing & frightening it can be, sending your child into school knowing that they could be sitting next to a child eating a peanut butter sandwich but it is equally impossible to monitor allergy inducing foods in lunchboxes within a school environment.
What we need to concentrate on is educating school children about not sharing food and educate non-allergic kids about how serious an allergic reaction can be.
If they haven’t seen it, they don’t get it.
You can’t ban all foods in schools, as there are many common allergenic foods now.
Blanket food bans or attempts to totally eliminate food allergens in schools are not recommended by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA). Instead, schools are encouraged to have a management plan in place, which includes education for students, staff training, ways to reduce exposure and emergency response plans.
Every school should require a red action plan for every child that needs to be carrying an Epipen and in high school, those children should be allowed to keep their Epipen in their school bags as they may not be anywhere near the school medical office when a reaction occurs, and could even be off the grounds.
Even though schools can’t enforce a nut ban, schools are not allowed to use nut products or peanuts in any part of their curriculum or extra curricular activity. This does NOT include things that state ‘may contain nuts’ because this statement is everywhere & unfortunately it’s a companies way of covering themselves.
Now, I want to bust a common myth about allergies and anaphylaxis…
A child with food allergies can be at risk of anaphylaxis at anytime.
Just because they have not previously had anaphylaxis, it doesn’t mean it can’t strike at the next reaction.
We hear so many times, people say “my child is allergic to milk & anaphylactic to egg”
It doesn’t work like that.
Any child with a true food allergy could have had 6 allergic reactions of just hives, itchy mouth & swollen eyes then the 7th time could present with no hives or swelling of the eyes, but a persistent cough which turns into anaphylaxis.
Each child is different & each reaction can be different too.
So the bottom line is -
Know what to do in an emergency
Don’t be frightened of the Epipen
Make sure your child’s school has their red action plan & an Epipen is with them at school at all times
Educate your child on not sharing food
Consider showing your age appropriate friends or child’s friends what the Epipen is and how to use it, especially for teenagers.
All of the above is so important, because your child’s school can not guarantee that it is nut free, or the child sitting next to you, doesn’t have a nut based snack in his lunchbox.
To learn more about childhood allergy management, prevention, first aid & CPR, click here to book a class in your home for up to 10 people!
In a 3 hour class, in the comfort of your home, we will cover Infant & Child CPR, First Aid for the 5 most common injuries and deliver Allergy Prevention and Management advice, all tailored to the child’s age groups & need of the attendees.