August 22, 2008

Nutty Ban Makes Perfect Sense at School


SOME people might consider it nutty but Tuatapere Community College has implemented a school-wide ban on nuts.

The college made the bold decision in order to protect two pupils who are highly allergic to nuts and could die within 20 minutes if they consumed them.

Principal David Tuson said when they made the decision 18 months ago he was not aware of any other schools that had taken that path in Southland.

"We just went ahead and did what we needed to do for our kids," Mr Tuson said.

If Brad Devery, 7, were to accidentally eat something with nuts in it, he would probably slip into anaphylactic shock, swell and and possibly stop breathing.

His heart might even stop and within 20 minutes he would need an adrenalin shot to help him breathe normally.

The college keeps an adrenalin shot -- or an EpiPen -- in the staff room for emergencies.

Because nut traces can potentially cause death, Brad has to also keep away from jellybeans, chocolate and most brands of biscuits.

Even fish and chips are a risk.

Teacher Troy Anderson said the other kids might be banned from their peanut butter sandwiches and Snickers bars but they had been supportive.

Allergy awareness group Allergy New Zealand chief executive Penny Jorgensen supported the school's nut-ban move and said New Zealand schools needed better guidelines to deal with food allergies.

Although death from food allergies was pretty rare, Ms Jorgensen said Australian research showed hospital admissions from these allergies were on the rise.

[email protected] DID YOU KNOW? As little as 1/2000th of a peanut can cause death.

One in 50 children and one in 200 adults in New Zealand are estimated to be allergic to nuts.

About 20 percent of children grow out of their allergy by age 5.

Coconuts rarely cause allergic reactions.

Teenagers and young adults may be more at risk of life- threatening reactions than younger children.

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