(NC)—Food allergies are a serious issue affecting approximately six per cent of all children, according to Health Canada. To reduce the likelihood of allergic reactions in the classroom, most schools have policies that restrict certain at-risk foods. When severely allergic children are exposed to even the tiniest amount of at risk foods they can experience life-threatening anaphylactic reactions.
It is the responsibility of all parents to be aware of the risks and take necessary precautions. Follow these steps to ensure allergic children are safe at school and at play:
• Become familiar with your child's school policy on food allergens and appropriate school-safe foods.
• Identify the kids in your child's peer group or class who suffer from food allergies and learn how to respond in the event of a reaction.
• Read the ingredients list on food products. While peanut butter is a clear no-no, surprise allergens can also be found from seeds on bread or other manufactured goods.
• If your child has peanut butter for breakfast, be sure that hands are washed thoroughly and teeth are brushed well before school.
• Look for the peanut-free label on snacks and lunch items – most schools won't allow packaged snacks that don't have this marking on them.
Some food manufacturers have made it easy for parents to identify products that are classroom safe by including a peanut-free logo on the front of the box. Grocery retailers are also making a concerted effort to offer a larger assortment of peanut free offerings to Canadians. President's Choice and no name brands, for example, have more than 80 peanut-free products. In addition, peanut-free offerings are also available in the fresh baked section wherever PC products are sold. Many of these packaged items come in school-safe snack-size – so this Halloween, consider giving away options everyone can enjoy, instead of some of the Halloween treats containing nuts.
If you have questions about food allergies and anaphylaxis, visit Anaphlaxis Canada's website at www.anaphlaxsis.ca, or a trained pharmacist, such as those in a Loblaw drugstore pharmacy.