Why Are Peanuts Still Served on Airplanes?
Photo by BeautyLine/Shutterstock
Like most people I often find myself lost in my thoughts. One thing I think about a lot is the rising trend in food allergies. I know, you weren’t expecting me to say that, but as the parent of a child who has life-threatening food allergies this topic more naturally comes to mind. One in 13 children in the U.S. have a food allergy, and the numbers continue to rise. That’s multiple kids in each and every classroom across the country. That’s a scary number.
So, in a day and age when everyone is so hypersensitive, I simply cannot understand why airlines still serve peanuts. It’s just plain dangerous. I admit, until I was forced to understand this issue I never gave it much thought. It didn't touch my life. I didn't have to think about it. After my son was diagnosed, I had to take the crash course about how to read labels and learn how to ask questions at restaurants and remember to have an emergency backup snack in my bag for those moments when my 3-year-old gets upset because he can't understand why he can't eat what everyone else is eating.
Most all preschools and day cares are nut free. And yes, I understand it's an imposition to the parents who don't have a child with an allergy. I thank you for taking a moment to read the label before you send a birthday snack into the class. I thank you for sending a ham sandwich instead of PB&J for lunch. I am grateful beyond words because every day when I send my child out into the world, be it to school, camp or a birthday party, I have to worry about what food he might come in contact with. I fear the phone call from the school that he’s been taken by ambulance to the emergency room for treatment. I've had to leave an Epipen with parents who have fear in their eyes, and I know they feel burdened by the severity of what I am asking of them. It’s not fun for me either.
But this is the world we live in now. Like I said before, food allergies and sensitivities are on the rise. Some just make you feel bad. Some can kill you. Peanuts fall into the potential "kill you" category. So why, why, why are we handing them out on airplanes? Enclosed spaces with shared air far away from medical professionals. I can think off the top of my head of a bunch of other things you could offer in their place that would be exponentially safer.
Oh, and for the airline I was on today that served the peanuts, it doesn't solve the problem when the pretzels you offer as an alternative are made in a facility that processes nuts. I mean, really? He can’t eat that either, and it feels amazingly insensitive. Companies have responsibilities to do what they can to safeguard the people who both work for them and who use their services. Airlines, please reconsider.
So until a safe airplane snack shows up we will continue to do as we always do and bring our own snacks, which are way cooler than the tiny bag of peanuts, and way safer, too.
While this is a personal challenge for our family it has made me more aware of what other families go through. It has helped me become more sensitive and empathetic to others and that is something I wish to pass along to my son. We all face some sort of challenge. Let’s work to be kind to each other and make accommodations where we can to keep everyone safe
If you’re new to food allergies, or want more information, check out FARE – Food Allergy Research & Education. This is an amazing resource and offers local chapters you can join.