Food bans in schools
Allergy New Zealand does not recommend banning of food or other products due to the possibility of encouraging complacency among staff and students, the presence of hidden allergens and the difficulty of monitoring and enforcing a ban.
Food allergy management in schools is complex and involves far more than simply implementing a ban.
Schools must be aware of the risks associated with anaphylaxis and implement practical, age-appropriate strategies to minimise exposure to known allergens.
An example of this may be schools asking parents of children in early primary years (kindergarten to seven years old) not to send peanut butter or egg on sandwiches if a class member has a peanut or egg allergy. This is due to the higher risk of person-to-person contact in younger children.
Anaphylaxis, the most severe form of allergic reaction, is a medical emergency and schools need to ensure staff are trained in how to recognise and treat a reaction.
If food bans are being considered, this should be supported by a letter from the child’s specialist and included in the child’s healthcare plan.
If a school does decide to implement a nut ban, it should never claim to “peanut or nut free”. Evidence from experts indicates that this type of claim is not reliable and may lead to a false sense of security about exposure to peanuts or nuts.
If you are a media organisation, you may like to contact the Ministry of Education for their recommendation on allergy management in schools.
For more information on allergy management in schools, click here to go to Education Sector.