Robin O’Brian, author of The Unhealthy Truth, posted on Facebook today this story from the Chicago Tribune regarding a seventh-grader who suffered a fatal allergic reaction to peanut oil in Chinese food brought in for a class party.
According to the article, another parent of a peanut-allergic child in the class had been told that “a teacher had called the restaurant several times to make sure peanuts would not be used in the food.” While this parent’s daughter did not have a reaction, the girl in question soon had trouble breathing and later died of anaphylaxis at a nearby hospital.
Clearly more questions than answers are raised by this tragic story. Should the family have allowed the child to eat the food, regardless of any assurances from the teacher? Was an epi-pen available? If not, why not?
And then, of course, there is the larger question of what constitutes appropriate accommodations for food allergic children in schools. That issue is a controversial one, as we saw here on TLT just last week. But whatever your thoughts on the subject, it’s clearly a debate worth having: according to the Chicago Tribune story, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that food allergies now affect approximately 1 in 25 school-aged children.