CDC Implements Food Allergy Guidelines for Schools
Posted on November 01 2013
The CDC estimates that 4-6% of children have some sort of a food allergy and 88% of schools around the country have at least one child with a severe food allergy. For the very first time in history, federal health officials are giving schools recommendations on how to handle food allergies and these students.
The guidelines that were released just this past Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are voluntary, but they could make school safer for millions of children. These new guidelines could also mean that more classrooms will ban food rewards, snacks and party treats that could be made with nuts, milk, eggs and other common allergens. “We all want all kids to be safe and included,” says John Lehr, Chief Executive Officer of Food Allergy Research & Education. “If the kid next to you gets a candy bar as a reward but you get a pat on the head or a sticker, you feel bad. But when everybody gets a sticker, you feel good about getting a sticker.”
Fifteen states and many school districts already had their own guidelines set in place, but these new CDC recommendations are quickly becoming the new “gold standard” for food allergy regulations.
CDC recommendations for schools:
- Avoid using foods identified with allergens in class projects, parties, snacks, science experiments and cooking exercises classrooms that have children. - Train all staff to use epinephrine injecting devices (such as EpiPens and Auvi-Q) for emergency situations - Make sure children who can use their own injectors are able to get to them quickly. - Be sure children with food allergies are not excluded from field trips, extracurricular activities, physical education or recess. - Consider designating food-free-zones or allergen-safe zones. Use non-food incentives for prizes, gifts and awards.
Parents of children with food allergies can play a vital role in deciding what their child eats at school, as well. Do not assume that the school staff is knowledgeable about allergies and request a meeting with school officials, your child’s teacher, the school nurse, principal, and cafeteria workers. Be sure to discuss your child’s needs and allergies in great detail and distribute your child’s food allergy action plan.