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Harry Vandoloski: Nut ban in Amherst is problematic

To the editor:

Like many other issues the Amherst, the school ban on nut products is born of good intentions but may cause more difficulties than it solves. To be consistent and treat all students fairly, nearly all foods should be banned.

According to mayoclinic.com, soy can cause the life-threatening condition of anaphylaxis. Dairy can cause anaphylaxis. Also “In some people, pollen-food allergy syndrome (from eating fresh fruits and vegetables) — sometimes called oral allergy syndrome — can cause swelling of the throat or even anaphylaxis.” A child or adult who has a serious allergy has to take great precautions to avoid the risk of endangering themselves through contact with the wrong items. Society cannot protect every individual from all harm, no matter how much it tries to do so by inconveniencing the rest of the population.

If someone believes a “law” banning harmful substances will protect them it would seem they may be more trusting of what they eat and more likely to make a fatal error.

Educating the public to serious health issues is commendable, but the one best suited to maintain the health and safety of an individual is that individual (or, in the case of a young child, those adults directly responsible for monitoring that child). Although I have great sympathy for anyone with a serious allergy, we do not keep children from harm in this world by removing all harm (obviously an impossible task). It usually serves them much better to be given the knowledge and ability to avoid that which may be harmful. Young children can be taught to not touch sharp knives or fire. Those with a serious allergy should be taught to avoid any food that is not directly provided or approved by their parent or guardian.

Harry Vandoloski

Hadley

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Legacy Comments1

As the parent of two children with multiple life-threatening food allergies, I fully support a ban on nuts. Schools need to work with individual families and doctors to create 504 plans that are suitable for each student. My son is "ana" (Anaphylactic) to peanuts via contact, airborne and ingest. He is also ana to soy, eggs and tree nuts via ingestion. My daughter is ana via contact, airborne and ingest to dairy and eggs and ana to peanuts via ingest. In order to reduce risk, it is in everyone's best interest to ban nuts. Sure, there will be some uneducated parents that will break the rules. My son is taught how to read labels, not to eat anything that wasn't provided by us, wash hands often and not to touch his face. He will still follow those safety tips but, how can he avoid what he can't see? If someone opens a bag of peanuts in his class, he doesn't have the freedom to get up and walk out like he would in real life. He also doesn't get to choose which "restaurant" he will dine at for lunch like he does in real life. We don't go places where nuts are served so, why would we accept the school exposing him to those situations? The same is true for our daughter. While dairy and egg are harder to ban from the school, there are precautions that can be taken to reduce risk. Consider your own child. How would your child feel watching his or her classmate die knowing that the food that he or she chose to bring in was the cause? This scenario has played out in schools around the world. It is devastating to a school and students are permanently scared when a classmate dies (especially in front of them). Children with life threatening food allergies are protected under the Americans with Disability Act. It is considered a disability and therefore, schools have to accommodate these students according to what is needed. My son does not need soy banned because coming into contact with it will not kill him. Ingesting it might. Each school needs to accommodate the disabilities of the students they serve regardless of what that disability is. Be thankful your family is not inflicted by this horrible disorder and be respectful of those who are.

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