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I am thinking about enrolling my child, who is allergic to peanuts, for summer camp in Pennsylvania. How should I ensure his safety?

 

A:

The most important thing is to find out as much as you can from the camp with regard to the camp’s policy about food allergies.

First, you should find out if the camp has a no peanut policy.  For example, some camps do not allow peanuts.  If parents are packing their children’s lunches, the lunches cannot have any peanuts in it, no peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, peanut butter cookies, or a food product that may contain peanuts in it like a granola bar. 

If the school does not have a no peanut policy, then you should find out if there are any special arrangements made during snack or lunch time.  For example, is there a special table where kids with peanut allergy sit?  This way, kids who have peanuts in their lunches are separated from the kids with peanut allergies during snack or lunch time.

Also, does the school have a “no sharing” policy? In other words, kids are told that they are not allowed to share their food.  Kids may innocently offer another child who is allergic to peanuts his peanut butter cracker.  Therefore, kids must not share their food.

Also see: Summer Camps For Kids With Food Allergies - What Parents Should Know To Ensure Their Children's Safety

If the camp provides food, you may want to consider packing your child’s lunch.  If you want your child to eat the food the camp provides, then you should find out if the food served contains peanuts.  If the camp does not serve food with peanuts in it, you want to make sure that the camp will check all of the ingredients they use to make the meals. 

For example, a meal may not contain a peanut ingredient in it; however, if a premade meal came from a facility that uses peanuts, there may be a risk of the meal being cross-contaminated.  A common example of potential cross-contamination is pretzels or cookies.  When you read the ingredients, there are no peanuts in the pretzels or cookies; however, at the end, the label says the product is manufactured at a facility that uses tree nuts or peanuts.  Therefore, there is a risk that traces of peanuts may be on the pretzels or cookies.  See Food Allergy Lawsuits - Cross-Contamination

The other thing you want to find out is what happens if your child is exposed to peanuts.  What are the camp’s procedures?  Where is the medicine kept at the camp?  Is it easily accessible?  How far is the hospital from the camp? If the camp is in a rural area and far from a hospital, your child may not get the necessary medical treatment in time if he goes into serious anaphylactic shock.  Therefore, the distance from a hospital may be something you want to consider before enrolling your child at a specific camp.

Related food allergy article: Food Allergy Lawsuits – Restaurants/Public Establishments’ Mistakes Or Negligence


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