The No Nuts Policy is not a law
First off, it’s important to note that the No Nuts policy has never been a law. In Quebec, there are no regulations concerning the safety measures to be taken in the case of allergic reactions. In Ontario, however, the opposite is true. Since 2006, they have enacted the Protect Anaphylactic Students Act.
The Quebec school system is developing their own regulations and procedures for allergies. The ban on nuts and peanuts is almost self-evident, as they have long been known to trigger serious, sometimes fatal, reactions. However, other equally severe allergies such as milk, egg or fish are becoming more and more common. As a result, there is a tendency to increase food bans at school in order to protect all children.
Removing the No Nuts policy in schools
The opinions on the withdrawal of this policy at the Montreal School Board in 2017 are quickly changing in this context of increased allergies. More and more people disagree with the withdrawal of the policy, yet current research seems to be agreeing with the withdrawal of the policy.
A Montreal study indicates that children with nut allergies are a little more at risk in schools that prohibit them than in those that all them. Why? Possibly because of the feeling of false security that they could cultivate in a place adopting the No Nuts policy.
In addition, it’s becoming harder and harder for schools to ensure an environment free of allergens. In Quebec, cases of food allergies jumped by 18% among the youth between 1997 and 2008, according to Allergies Quebec.
To reduce the risk of exposure, it may be more beneficial to educate children and caregivers about allergies.
Focus on Prevention and Education
- Prevention and education are played out daily. At school, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of exposure to allergenic ingredients.
- Clean contaminated surfaces
- Encourage reading labels to identify allergens
- Do not share or exchange food
- Wash hands before and after meals
- Use non-food rewards (No candy!)
Allergies Quebec has developed a protocol for schools to standardize procedures.
This approach focuses on:
Any solutions to allergies?
Fortunately, research on good allergies is progressing and can provide some solutions:
You can introduce peanuts early in your child’s diet. According to a study by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, this reduces the risk of peanut allergy by 81%.
CHU Sainte-Justine offers a treatment of food allergies by oral immunotherapy, and you can register your child at their clinic. Since the project is in the implementation phase, some prioritization criteria will give varying wait times.
It is normal that the withdrawal of the No Nuts policy feeds some fears among the parents of children with allergies. Prevention and education are the best way to protect your little ones.