That’s Ms. Peanut-Allergy Nazi to you
Everyone should be obligated to check out the facts before forming half-cocked opinions.
Unfortunately, that's not what happened in an opinion piece posted this week at investors.com under the headline, The War on Peanuts.
"North Carolina is the fifth-largest peanut grower in the U.S., yet peanut-allergy nazis have persuaded even officials in that state to crack down on PB&Js," it begins.
The piece starts by criticizing a school district that asked parents to pledge to not pack peanuts in their children's lunches. It did not require it, though. So where's the crack down?
Chances are, a voluntary pledge might not comply with law if the parents of an allergic child pushed the issue. Though the issue's not worked its way completely through the court system, there are Office of Civil Rights rulings indicating that peanut allergies are an "extraordinary circumstance" meriting protection for a child. An amendment this fall to the Americans With Disabilities Act made it clear that food-allergic school children are covered.
I could continue going through line-by-line citing unsourced claims: "Another reason for the so-called epidemic is more parents are randomly removing peanuts in their babies' diets, thereby lowering their tolerance in later years."
But instead I'll focus on the "high points."
"The district's also shaming parents into washing their kids' hands in the morning before they go on the bus, lest they transfer the dangerous peanut molecule and endanger a seat mate."
Personally, I have never been ashamed of washing my kids' hands. A dangerous peanut molecule did, however, once transfer from a classmate to Big Guy. That's how we found out he was allergic.
"CDC studies show about 25% of parents think their kids have food allergies when only about 4% really do."
I hate made-up allergies, too, because they make it harder for people with true allergies to be taken seriously. That 4 percent, though, is 3 million children. There are 700 kids in Big Guy's school. You want to pick 28 at random and tell them it's OK to put their lives at risk?
"CDC data show food allergy deaths are extremely rare, with peanut-related deaths almost nonexistent. And kids really at risk of death by peanut carry epi-pens."
True. "Only" 150 people die a year from food allergies. Three a week's not so bad. Another 2,000 people are hospitalized, but that's still "only" 38 cases a week.
And kids in our school district are not allowed to carry EpiPens. Big Guy's remain locked in desks, where I pray someone can get to one in time. At best, an EpiPen gives you time to get to a hospital -- it's not instant or automatic cure. Repeated use also can diminish effectiveness.
Yes, North Carolina grows a lot of peanuts but asking kids to lay off for one meal a day isn't likely to cause an industry to collapse.
North Carolina also grows a lot of tobacco, but I doubt anyone would encourage smoking around people using oxygen tanks.
Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.