school

"If you have a problem with food bans at school, I have just one question for you."

Each year it seems an increasing number of food items are banned at primary schools around the country.

As part of a national standard all Australian primary school implement a nut ban, and then each school uses their own discretion to ban other foods students are allergic to such as egg and fish.

Every year when the notes are handed out about food bans at school I hear parents – particularly new parents – complaining.

“But little Johnny only every eats peanut butter sandwiches. Why should he miss out because some other kid is allergic?”

“Jenny always eats boiled eggs. I should be able to pack them in her school lunch.”

Listen to Jo Abi talk about school lunch bans on This Glorious Mess. 

I’m an allergy mum and most of the time I bite my tongue when I overhear these conversations, hoping once the parents stop complaining they just following the rules of the school. I know that most parents do, I also know that some parent’s don’t.

Let me ask you this…

How would you feel if a lunch you packed for your child killed my son who is allergic to egg and nuts? How would your child feel?

Could you live with yourself, knowing you deliberately disobeyed the rules of the school and now an innocent child is dead?

I didn’t think so.

Philip has to carry his EpiPen with him at all times and is learning how to use it himself. Image: Provided.
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There's a reason some foods are banned in primary schools. Food bans don't exist in high schools. It's assumed that by the time children with food allergies start high school they are able to manage them on their own. That's also why they are banned in primary schools.

Primary school children are too young to manage their own food allergies.

Primary school children kiss each other on the lips, not realising the danger of allergen transference.

Primary school kids share their food, even though they aren't meant to.

Primary school kids are sometimes a bit silly and think it's funny to chase my son around with a boiled egg, which for him is the equivalent of chasing him around with a loaded gun.

Young children with food allergies need our help to keep them safe, just like all children need our help to keep them safe. Following food bans is just one way you can keep children safe. Another way is to be careful at school crossing, not drive to fast in the school car park, help them if they fall over and make sure they have a parent waiting if you see them walking down the road by themselves.

Food allergy facts:

1 in 20 children are born with food allergies

The most common triggers are egg, cow's milk, peanut, tree nuts, seafood, sesame, soy, fish and wheat.

Some food allergies can be severe, causing life-threatening reactions known as anaphylaxis.

In Australia, admissions for anaphylaxis due to food allergy in children aged 0 to 4 years have increased five-fold over the past decade.

Food allergy can develop at any age, but is most common in young children aged less than 5 years.

Most of the time, children with food allergy do not have parents with food allergy.

allergy.org.au

Parents, we are all in this together.

I don't know why my son was born with severe food allergies. I don't know what I may have done during my pregnancy with him that contributed to them. I don't know why he has food allergies and my other children don't. I don't know if he'll ever grow out of them.

He just started high school so I doubt it. Instead he now wears an EpiPen Pack every day so his life-saving medication is on him at all times.

I promise to look out for your kids if you continue to look out for mine and I thank you for your help.

My son's food allergies are a kind of illness, like cancer, and like cancer they could kill him.

Please help me keep him safe and all kids safe.

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