Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Jelly Sandwiches?

"It's just a little bit of jelly with two pieces of bread, for now. But how long before gluten is banned? Because everybody and their brother is allergic to that now."
"We're dealing with six-year-old children. It's hard enough getting them to eat. You can't put a slice of cheese in your child's sandwich. What if she won't eat the sandwich?"
Tony Perfetto, Toronto

"Please note that of these allergens, the dairy allergy is of the greatest concern, as the student will have an allergic reaction upon skin contact of dairy ... Some example of foods that contain dairy are milk, chocolate milk, yogurt, chocolate products, cheese strings, cheese in sandwiches/burgers/pasta and goldfish cheese crackers."
Parent notification, St.Gabriel the Archangel Catholic School, Toronto

"The more over-the-top requests make the more reasonable accommodations seem less reasonable."
Dr. David Fischer, Barrie, Ontario immunologist

"I can understand it can be frustrating if you don't have a child with a food allergy, it's very difficult to understand that these kids aren't just being fussy about not eating something. This can do them harm."
Laura Harada, executive director, Anaphylaxis Canada
Dairy products - stock photo

Mr. Perfetto is one -- but presumably only one of many parents feeling desperately frustrated about what is left in the nutritional canon to give their young children in respect of numerous requests by primary-grade elementary schools to avoid the types of whole foods that some young students are health-averse to, through their diagnosed allergic condition.

In most circumstances, at most times it is perplexing enough what can be given to young children that will both appeal to their palate and be healthy for them to eat.

The risk of anaphylactic shock among one student only has mandated the Toronto-area school named above to produce a list of prohibited foods from the menu of children attending the school. That list is inclusive of peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, sesame seeds, melon, avocado -- and all dairy products. So Tony Perfetto makes jelly or margarine 'sandwiches' for his seven-year-old daughter.

And he worries both about the lack of nutritional value of these sad little sandwiches, the lack of variety left to him, and the possibility that even that may be seen as compromising to someone's health in the near future. Struggling with the daily demands of a busy life, parents must contend with the continual requirement to present nutritionally viable food items to picky youngsters.

Dr. David Fischer, who has been a practising immunologist in Hamilton for fifteen years, ventures the opinion based on reliable studies that the noted increase in allergy diagnoses can be attributed to a number of environmental factors, the most obvious of which appears to be an increased general consumption of processed food. He also points out that children severely allergic to dairy products tend to outgrow the condition before they reach school-age.

Obviously, not all do. Hence the dilemma Mr. Perfetto finds himself in. A Toronto mother in 2012 gained some measure of notoriety when she demanded to have the oak trees growing around her child's school taken down because of her child's nut allergy. The Hamilton mother who filed a human rights complaint against her local school board for failure to accommodate her six-year-old child's milk and egg allergy another instance of what Dr. Fischer decried as "over the top".

With the bar on what constitutes human rights entitlements ever ascending, and the threat of calls on the Human Rights Tribunal hanging over their heads like the proverbial Sword of Damocles, school board are increasingly fettered with the demands of parents insisting that schools must be seen to be fully responsible for the health well-being of their health-compromised children.

Imposing in their demands which many parents not themselves facing the fear and uncertainty surrounding the health of their own children, additional burdens to those already grappled with throughout the course of most people's busy days. The parents of children unhindered in their daily lives by the need to be food-vigilant can most understandably feel put-upon by extreme demands.

It's not the least bit difficult to feel concern for the welfare of a child whose future and very present may be hampered by potential disaster, yet feel just as great, even equally more sympathy for the parents whose children pay a price to try to aid in giving a family not their own the gift of an assurance that they will do all in their power to help avoid a tragedy.

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