“Nut-free,” “Peanut-free,” and the latest and greatest “Nut sensitive:” The rage in preschools and elementary schools across the country is to protect our nut-challenged children from nut exposure, even if it means not exposing them to nuts in the same building or playground, to minimize their risk of life-threatening allergic reactions. Allergic concerns have expanded beyond nuts, to gluten and dairy, to the degree that some schools now prohibit “powdered cheese products,” to protect children who are especially dairy sensitive. Some schools are not “nut-” or “dairy-free”, but are merely “nut-” or “dairy-sensitive”. I hope that this means that they take special precautions, beyond just discussing the inner feelings and emotions of those “sensitive” to certain foods.
Please don’t take any of this as sarcasm. I am fully aware that food allergies are bona fide, and when they occur to the point of danger, kids can die, or nearly die, from a severe food reaction. An elementary school girl recently died of a previously undocumented allergic reaction while at school. So an institution’s decision to either ban or, well, “sensitize,” potential food allergens, for the greater good, becomes a public health issue, even on the small scale of a school’s microcosm.