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More schools consider peanut ban - Allergy New Zealand respond

Dear Editor,

I am writing in response to “More schools consider peanut ban”, Dominion Post, 15 September, which omitted several key points.

Food allergy management in schools is complex and involves far more than simply implementing a ban. Allergy New Zealand does not support blanket food bans in schools as the only means of keeping children with food allergies safe.

Schools must be aware of the risks associated with anaphylaxis and implement practical, age-appropriate strategies to minimise exposure to known allergens to help keep the child safe. Anaphylaxis, the most severe form of allergic reaction, is a medical emergency and schools need to ensure staff are trained in how to recognise and treat a reaction.

If food bans are being considered, this should be supported by a letter from the child’s specialist and included in the child’s healthcare plan.

Allergy New Zealand’s concern arises where schools decide to implement a ban and then claim to be “peanut or nut-free”. Evidence from experts indicates that this type of claim is not reliable and may lead to a false sense of security about exposure to peanuts or nuts.

Kind regards

Inga Stünzner
Allergy New Zealand

The story

Dominion Post, 15 September 2008 — Another Wellington school is considering a lunchbox ban on peanuts.

Allergy New Zealand says there has been a jump in food allergies in young children in the past five years and more schools are now implementing bans.

But spokeswoman Inga Stunzner said blanket food bans could do more harm than good by giving allergy sufferers and teachers a false sense of security and cocooning young people from the real world.

"Children with allergies need to develop the skills to survive once they're out of school. When you put bans in place, you're not allowing the child to develop those skills."
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