Fifty-eight percent against school food allergy limitations

May 24, 2011

Despite growing number of children with food allergies, a majority of parents of school-age children don't feel limitations should be placed on foods their kids can bring to school.

There has been recent controversy in the news about food restrictions in schools designed to protect children with food allergies. According to the CDC, an estimated three million children in the U.S. suffer from a food allergy, and for some children food allergies are life-threatening. 

The CDC says that food allergies in children are on the rise, and with that concern from parents and school officials has been heightened because of recent incidences where food brought in from outside of the school caused allergic reactions in children. In response, some schools are banning certain foods allowed at school, and/or banning food from outside the school brought in for special occasions like holiday and birthday parties. 

Supermarket Guru conducted a quick poll to dig deeper into the feelings of people with school-age children and how they are reacting to efforts to ban certain foods from schools. Thirty-two percent say they are aware of schools in their area that are placing these types of food limitations in schools, and the survey results suggest that many parents don’t feel like it is fair to restrict what children can bring to school in their lunchboxes.

When asked if they think the eight most highly allergic ingredients in food should be banned from being brought in school lunches, 58% said no. Thirty-one percent felt like it depended on the ingredient. Only eight percent answered yes, and the remaining three percent don’t know how they feel. 

For the ones that answered, “depends on the ingredient,” we asked which ingredients they feel should be restricted. The top three answers were as follows: 31% peanuts, 18% tree nuts, and 14% shellfish. 

One solution that some schools may be testing is having children with food allergies sit at “no sharing” tables or “peanut-free” tables. When we asked our readers how they felt about this, 64% agreed with this practice, and 23% did not. 

An extremely important step in preventing food allergy attacks is reading labels carefully for ingredients that can be potentially harmful. We asked our readers if they read labels closely and often enough that they could comply with food allergy restrictions on packaged foods if they needed to: 68% said yes, 16% said no, and another 16% are not sure. 

Even if limitations of food are placed in school, the trick is enforcing the rules consistently. We asked our readers if they think this is possible, and 48% said no, 36% said yes, and 16% are not sure. 

Retailers can support the food allergy awareness movement by getting involved with their customers and offering solutions to foods and snacks that can be packed in lunches that don’t contain the most common highly allergic ingredients. Bakeries can promote birthday and holiday party treats for kids that don’t contain nuts. 

It cannot be predicted whether or not children will make mistakes and share foods with each other or eat things they are not supposed to. Awareness is key in protecting those that do suffer from dangerous food allergies.