To All Those Who Mock No-Peanut Rules

To All Those Who Mock No-Peanut Rules

Have you noticed the memes, social media conversations, and general attitude going around about banning peanut items in schools? It’s a mixture of “Back in my day…” sentiments, and a notion that kids these days are so entitled.

Apparently, there are people out there in the world who think it’s silly and fussy to ban food products with peanut ingredients from schools and social functions. Surely it’s just some new gluten-free, organic fad, right? Probably the result of helicopter moms and such.

It shouldn’t even need to be said, because people should learn about things before forming opinions about them, but: peanut allergy is serious.

It is not a fad. It is not something a person demands because they are picky eaters or because they are privileged or because they’re entitled.

Related: Introducing Peanuts to Babies Could Cut Allergy Risk

Peanut allergies kill. Mere exposure to peanut residue from across a room can kill. Peanut allergy is not a personal weakness. It is a severe anaphylactic reaction.

In the 2014 instance of the Giorgi family, they had taken all possible precautions. When their family stayed at a popular summer camp, they warned the staff that their daughter, Natalie, had a potentially fatal peanut allergy. They warned the staff that something as simple as cross-contamination could kill her. They had told the staff “in writing and in person numerous times” about this issue. Their daughter was conscientious of avoiding peanut products. They were prepared with multiple Epipens. In addition to that, there were other children at the camp with the same allergy, which the staff was also aware of.

Thirteen-year-old Natalie Giorgi was attending a family summer camp with her parents and friends of her family, at Camp Sacramento near Lake Tahoe. Natalie was diagnosed with the allergy at age 3, when she had a mild reaction to nuts, but had never had a serious allergic reaction.

On the last day of her family’s visit, Natalie ate a Rice Krispie treat which had been prepared by workers at the camp. Peanut butter had been mixed into the treat in a way that was undetectable. But Natalie seemed to know immediately. She ran to her parents and said, “I ate something… and it didn’t taste right.”

For 20 minutes, she seemed fine. Then she vomited and almost immediately stopped breathing. They injected her with one Epipen, then another, then a third. Nothing worked. Paramedics arrived but were unable to save her.

Natalie’s mother explained, in haunting words that should show everyone how truly devastating food allergies can be: “She was suffocating. And she was frantic. There was terror in her eyes.”

The Giorgi family later filed a lawsuit against the camp, which they stated they “took no joy in,” but hoped it would help raise awareness about the seriousness of such allergies.

As Natalie’s mother said in an interview after Natalie’s death, “We had denied our daughter birthday treats in the classrooms. We read every food label looking for peanuts. This is not helicopter parenting. This was us trying to keep our children alive.”

Banning peanuts from schools, airplanes, and other functions is not helicopter parenting. It is not a millennial invention. It’s not a “precious snowflake” epidemic. It’s a life or death situation that some parents live in fear of their entire life. If being able to eat a peanut butter sandwich is more important than a child’s life, who is really the entitled one?

Image credit: Dean Hochman

8 thoughts on “To All Those Who Mock No-Peanut Rules”

  1. Why don’t you educate yourself where the allergy originated from and why now there are so many more kids with it than ‘back in my day’….
    Natalie’s parents haven’t educated themselves! By that they have signed her death, not the camp workers!

    1. First and foremost, I’m an allergy parent. My son has a severe allergy to peanuts and treenuts.
      There aren’t answers as to why the allergies are at a higher rate. It takes time for science to find those reasons.

      No one “signed her death”. I actuality by informing the camp numerous times she’s doing exactly legally what we are told to do with camps schools etc.

      Individuals in our community rally around our allergy kids to keep them safe and loved.
      I hope you can do the same in your community.
      Thank you!

    2. So you’re saying they gave her the peanut allergy? Or that they could have cured it? Seriously, if you have a legitimate way to prevent peanut allergies why don’t you share it with the world instead of blaming grieving parents for causing their child’s death?

    3. Anne,
      As the mother of a 5.5 year old daughter with severe food allergies I find your response inflammatory and insensitive. As a mother and a psychologist I am well versed in research and if there were a protocol I could have used to prevent my daughter’s allergies, I would. However, at this point there is no empirically supported protocol in place. I hope that you never have to know the agony and fear that goes with watching your child go into anaphylaxis, despite reading EVERY label whether it be food or lotion or toothpaste. I can tell you that anytime a child has a reaction a parent is going to question everything that happened and if there is something more they could have done. At this point we cannot point to exact evidence as to why some kids develop allergies, and to blame individual parents for their children’s allergies is pretty vicious. My hope is that in the future you will be more thoughtful in your language and tone.

  2. I find this article highly ironic! You want people to take peanut allergies seriously but you call gluten free diets just a fad! Celiac disease is NOT a fad. It’s an autoimmune disorder and yes, it can kill. It doesn’t cause anaphylactic shock but sufferers who do not follow their diets can look forward to complications such as diverticulitis and colon cancer. This attitude of yours is hypocritical. I feel the same frustration towards you that you feel towards others. I’ve had this disease for 10 years but it went undiagnosed for the first five. It was hard just to leave the house. I couldn’t hold down a job. My dietary needs are challenging but now I am healthy and can lead a normal life. But I guess that’s just me wanting to follow the latest fad!

    1. While Celiac is not a fad there are a lot of people going gluten free that are following a fad. They don’t have Celiac but have decided they are sensitive to gluten until the donuts come out. Which I know is very frustrating to people with Celiac because it makes people take their condition less seriously. I’m sure that’s the population she was referencing, not those who have Celiac.

  3. It think you make a lot of valid points. However, I think you need to re-think the gluten snark. Yes, there is a fad element of people seeking gluten free (although I think a good number of people do, indeed, feel better when they limit it even though they are not really allergic or truly intolerant). However, there are also people like my daughter and myself with Celiac. Additionally, my daughter has an anaphylactic allergy to wheat. So, please do not raise awareness of one issue while mocking another. Given all the snark around the gluten free diet trends, it is extremely hard to get people and restaurants to take my daughter and I really seriously. Why don’t we just trust what people say about their bodies and go from there?

  4. Peanut allergy and celiac disease are in NO way comparable.
    Peanut allergy can close an airway in 4 minutes. That’s 240 seconds. So to all the critics above, can you open an airway in less than 240 seconds? No? Didn’t think so.
    Mom of peanut allergy kid.

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