The furor over peanut butter bans

When at restaurants, my husband doesn’t understand why I frequently won’t inquire about ingredients of one dish or another, to see if it’s safe for me to eat.  (I’m on a gluten-free diet due to celiac disease.)  He gladly pulls the server aside, or asks to talk to the chef or manager.  I only rarely do.  I hate the feeling of putting somebody out, and I hate the deprecating, skeptical atttudes that we frequently encouner. 

I often read the greatly informative blog by Terri Mauro on about.com on Parenting Special Needs children.  There’s a conversation going on there about peanut butter bans in schools.  Some of the views expressed there are exactly why I just don’t ask those servers about gluten.

My 5yo son Wesley has both celiac disease, and is anaphylaxic to peanuts.  The first is 99% controllable by us;  we just don’t eat foods containing gluten.  The second is only partially controllable by us:  Obviously, he doesn’t eat any peanut-containing product.  But, peanut oil is really volatile, and easily dispersed into the air, and, basically, this means that the “scent” of peanuts can be toxic to him.  Now, granted, his allergy to peanuts isn’t as bad as some others, but it’s getting worse.  We increasingly have to avoid any place where we know peanuts are going to be present, including the ballpark, which we have, as a family, previously loved to go.

No matter how many personally-controllable precautions we take, we are still dependent, somewhat, on the consideration of others willingly foregoing peanuts in his presence.  I will never again travel Southwest airlines, nor any airline that is not peanut-free.  The angst I felt, rigidly holding the EpiPen, carefully watching and listening to my son as the scent and sound of the foil packs of peanuts being opened made its way back to us… well, it’s just not worth the $20/ticket I saved by flying Southwest.  We didn’t have to use the EpiPen, but I will never willingly go through that again.

Rather than hazard the dirty looks, the thinly-veiled skepticism, and the incredulity of those to whose mercy I’d have to submit in order to fly (or whatever) peanut-free, I think I’ll just avoid those places altogether.  Bummer.  Good thing we homeschool, or I’d certainly come into regular contact with the attitudes expressed in the 50+ comments on Terri’s post.  Some of them are in favor of peanut butter bans, but many of the comments are snidely and vociferously against them, faulting both parent and child.  😦

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About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on April 19, 2007, in Celiac Disease, Homeschooling, Medical Stuff, Parenting, Sad Things, The Dear Hubby, The Kids, Travelling. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I have found a lot of people around here (where i live) are surprisingly sensitive in the schools. My best friend has a child with bad peanut allergy and she has gone of some of what you are describing (including southwest), but when we went together visiting schools a lot were very well informed about allergies and she was surprised. I bet it is different place to place. But i agree with you that people should be so sensitive. I understand you not wanting to put people out at resturants, but it’s their job to serve you and they should understand that.

  2. I just don’t understand. Peanut allergy does not effect my personal life, but if I could make another child safer and less fearful at school by finding alternatives for my childs lunch, why wouldn’t I? Isn’t that in the spirit of the ADA? Reasonable accommodation anyone?

  3. Enjoyed the post. People just don’t realize the psychological impacts of having an allergy or food intolerance. You can’t take a vacation from it. I don’t like to ask for help at restaurants not only because I don’t want to bother someone, but because they have no idea what a gluten-intolerance is anyway. Like offering white bread instead of wheat bread…

  4. I am ashamed to admit that until three weeks ago, when Kiko had a severe allergic reaction to food (possibly sesame, perhaps peanut oil), I was complacent and blase about food allergies, to the extent that I once or twice thought: “Is peanut allergy really as serious as everyone makes out?” Now I feel like crying over my past ignorance. Food allergies are a life or death matter to so many people. How awful that if somebody has not had personal experience of severe allergies, they are so quick to dismiss they exist. I am in total sympathy of your Southwest airlines flight experience. What a nightmare. Yesterday, Kiko picked up a mouldy peanut off the floor of a cafe and handed it to me proudly. I almost had a conniption and kept praising him: “Good boy for not eating it!” I had no idea prior to this how omnipresent peanuts, sesame and nuts are. I have to admit that I am praying that the allergy testing will show up that peanut is not the culprit and that it is something more avoidable…

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