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allergies

I once cut my leg up with a chainsaw…

… so we must ban chainsaws!

Look, as a Dad with a daughter who is allergic to fish and a son allergic to tree nuts, I totally “get” why parents get hyped up about their kids being exposed to substances that may result in a severe reaction. But I also “get” that I cannot eliminate the risk 100% of the time! I’m not going to the Loblaws store Manager demanding that cashews be taken off the shelves or isolated in a “nut-only” secure room on the off-chance that a bag could split open while my kid is in the general vicinity.

No I’m not going to do that.

And I think that this parent is going a little over the top in demanding that an oak tree be removed from her child’s school because of acorns – which she perceives to be a threat.

One parent’s bid to remove four oak trees from a park straddling her acorn-allergic daughter’s elementary schoolyard has generated fresh debate over what lengths authorities should go to eliminate childhood risks, and when the line between reasonable accommodation and overreaction is crossed.

Donna Giustizia told Vaughan, Ont., city council that the saplings dropping tree nuts onto school property pose a threat to young students with anaphylaxis-inducing allergies and are infringing on their right to a nut-free space.

But the request is being met with broad skepticism, as city councillors are forced to mull the tricky business of altogether removing something that might be a risk for a small segment of the population.

Skepticism, indeed.

Besides, after a couple of minutes of searching the Interweb, it seems as though acorns aren’t tree nuts at al! At least not from an alergen perspective.

This is courtesy of the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology

Both acorns and chestnuts are a member of the plant family called Fagaceae. This family is different from those of tree nuts (almond, walnut, hickory, pecan, cashew). The substances that produce allergy in acorns and chestnuts are therefore different than those that produce allergy to the other tree nuts. To my knowledge, there is no risk of a patient with nut allergy having a reaction to contact with acorns or with leaves of any sort. I could not find any evidence for such risk on an Internet search.

The only allergy reaction to acorns that I am aware of occurs in areas of the world where they are eaten, and occurs to the ingestion of the acorn. In this instance the allergy is separate from nut allergy.

Now how about those chainsaws?

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Really? Seriously? Part 2…

… cuz I kinda like this theme.

We’re pretty sure that our youngest has a nut allergy – at least to tree nuts, but since tree nut and peanut allergies often go hand in hand, we are keeping nuts of all types away from both of the young ‘uns. We’ll know for sure when he is tested in January, but for now we’re erring on the side of caution.

So when we discovered this soy-based peanut butter substitute, we were darned thrilled! Here was a sandwich spread that both of the little ones LIKED – and that can be a challenge sometimes, as any parent knows – and it was nut-free. I imagine that there are quite a few parents like us who think likewise,

Of course, good things sometimes don’t last forever and I am afraid that this may be the fate of the WowButter. A School Board – The Thames valley School Board – has banned the product in children’s’ lunches because it, uh, looks too much like peanut butter and could be mistaken for peanut butter.

A London, Ont., school board has banned peanut butter substitutes simply because they could be confused with their peanut counterparts, angering parents already frustrated by efforts to find an acceptable lunch their kids will eat.

In a recent memo, Thames Valley District school board director Bill Tucker wrote that “any products considered to be a peanut butter replacement are no more appropriate in our schools than regular peanut butter.”

Parents were asked to “avoid using peanut butter and peanut butter alternatives because of the difficulty in being able to distinguish alternatives from the real thing.”

Really? Seriously?

WowButter even goes above and beyond to ensure that their product isn’t mistaken for the real thing:

To combat mix-ups with real peanut butter, WowButter promotes an elaborate step-by-step labeling program. On the first day of school, WowButter parents send a prepared letter to the child’s teacher indicating their intention to pack the product in school lunches. From then on, every sandwich bag or container carried by the child is affixed with a “100% peanut and nut free” label provided by the company.

And I’m not a parent who poo-poos the whole allergy thing. Daughter #2 DID have a peanut allergy until she was 5 years old, when she grew out of it. We know the seriousness of these things and fully support the decision by schools to ban peanut products – the real stuff.

But there is no evidence that confusion between the real thing and the soy thing has resulted in any adverse health outcome. Nothing.

And then I see a Tweet from someone in Orleans that they had received a letter from the school asking that soy-based butter not be sent in kids’ lunches.

I’m hoping that this is a school-isolated decision and not OCDSB policy!

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