With an increase in incidents around the nation, it is troubling nutrition experts that policies at schools differ about food allergies. The procedures that are used to protect children from allergic reactions vary from district to district, and sometimes from school to school.
In Bayonne, NJ, employees monitor peanut and egg allergies. However, a 7 year old girl died in Chesterfield, Virginia after sharing a treat that may have contained peanuts. In 2010, a student died in Chicago from an allergy to peanuts after a school party was catered by a Chinese restaurant that seems to have used peanut oil after saying they would not.
Approximately 100 to 200 people die each year after being exposed to food that triggers an allergic reaction. Between 10 and 15 million people in the United States have some type of food allergy, which could include peanuts, eggs, wheat products, dairy, or soy.
According to experts at Rutgers Cook College, 90 percent of all food allergies are attributed to just eight foods: peanuts, tree nuts (walnuts, cashews, coconuts, others), milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. Additional allergies include fruits and seeds.
“People sometimes aren’t aware of how serious food allergies can be,” said Dr. Carol Byrd-Bredbenner, a Rutgers nutrition researcher. “To them, it may seem like an inconvenience to not put peanut butter sandwiches in their children’s lunch, but there are many other nutritious choices – and leaving the peanut butter at home may save a classmate’s life.”