Peanut Allergies and your kids in school

January 25th, 2010 1:53am

Food allergies are thankfully not something I have had to deal with directly with my children. But I have been frightened enough for several kids that play with my own children and have peanut allergies that I have felt compelled to learn more about them. What I have discovered is a world of wonderful parents and specialists that have an immense amount of experience and knowledge and were willing to share it with me. I would like to take the time this week to share some of this insightful wisdom with all of you in hopes that it will help enlighten us all as to ways we can keep all of our kids safe and positive at school.

I’d like to start off this series by clarifying some of the different peanut related allergies out there. Most nut-related allergies seem to fall into two major categories…Peanuts and Tree Nuts, with the peanut allergy usually being the most volatile and sever. As with all food allergies, label reading is a necessity. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, all FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain peanut as an ingredient are required by U.S. law to list the word “peanut” on the product label. If they contain a tree nut as an ingredient, they are also required by U.S. law to list the specific tree nut on the product label.

In addition to any foods with warning labels that reference “may contain nuts” or “may be manufactured in a plant that processes nuts”, here are some foods that should be avoided in a child with a “peanut” allergy:

  • African, Asian (especially chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai, and Vietnamese), and Mexican dishes
  • baked goods (e.g., pastries, cookies)
  • candy (including chocolate candy)
  • chili
  • egg rolls
  • enchilada sauce
  • marzipan
  • mole sauce
  • nougat

If you are dealing with a tree nut allergy, here are a few of the ingredients you should avoid:

  • artificial nuts
  • beechnut
  • Brazil nuts
  • butternut
  • cashews
  • chestnuts
  • coconut
  • filberts/hazelnuts
  • ginkgo nut
  • hickory nuts
  • macadamia nuts
  • marzipan/almond paste
  • natural nut extract (e.g., almond, walnut)
  • nut butters (e.g., cashew butter)
  • nutmeat
  • pecans
  • pesto
  • pine nuts (also referred to as pinyon nuts)
  • pistachios
  • praline
  • shea nut
  • walnuts

As an extra warning, Wal Mart brand “great value” has now started processing everything with nuts even down to their ice cream and whale crackers. So avoid these foods altogether.

For those of you who are like me who don’t have a child with allergies but want to know some “safe” snacks you can send to school with your child that will not harm one of his friends that have a peanut allergy, here are some suggestions from a fellow mom who deals with this allergy in her own son. She offers these suggestions with the warning that manufacturer packaging and processing continually changes so please READ LABELS of any snacks you choose and watch for any of the following: peanuts/nuts, peanut/nut butter, peanut/nut oil, peanut/nut flour, peanut/nut meal, or any of the statements “May contain traces of peanut/nuts” or “Manufactrued in a facility that also processes peanuts (and/or other nuts)”…

  • Crackers: Pepperidge Farm Cheddar Goldfish (plain, pretzel or cheddar), Cheez-Its, Cheese Nips, Keepbler Twon House Crackers, Ritz Crackers (plain), Triscuits (original), What Thins (original), Chicken in a Bisket Crackers (original), Kraft Handi-Snacks Crackers with Cheese Dip
  • Potato Chips: Pringles, Lays (plain), Cheetors, Tostitos, Fritos
  • Pretzels: Rold Gold
  • Cookies: Original Oreos or Double Stuff, Teddy Grahams (not the trail mix), Barnum Animal Crackers, Rice Krispy Treats (plain), Nabisco Vanilla Wafers, Honey Maid Graham Crackers (plain or cinnamon), Fig Newtons, Chips-A-Hoy (NOT MINIS), Hostess Ho-Ho’s & Twinkies, Pepperidge Farm Milano/Chessmen/Shortbread/Sugar Cookes
  • Candy: Smarties, Starburst, Swedish Fish, Tootsie Rolls, Tootsie Pops, Skittles, Bubble Gum, lollipops, Sweet-Tarts, Air Heads, Lifesavers, Hershey Kisses (plain, not with almonds & not Hugs), Jet Puff Marshmallows
  • Gummy Snaks: (NOT Brachs or Jelly Belly) Only Betty Crocker or Nabisco Fruit Snacks including Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll-Ups, and Gushers.
  • Doughnuts: Krispy Kreme “Original Glazed” (only from the store – with or without sprinkles. Not pre-packaged from a grocery store).

Join us in our forum all week as we discuss the topic of peanut allergies and how to deal with them in schools. Coming up this week…Suggestions for helping your child self-manage their allergy, Bullying and ways to avoid it, Lunch room techniques and Guidelines for safety in the classroom.