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Nut danger lurking in lunch-boxes

WARNING: head teacher Keith Oliver says an increasing number of pupils are joining his school with severe nut allergies
WARNING: head teacher Keith Oliver says an increasing number of pupils are joining his school with severe nut allergies

A HEALTH warning from a Kent head teacher about the dangers of nuts in packed lunches at his school has led to a county-wide alert over the risk of allergies to schoolchildren.

Keith Oliver, head of Blean Primary School, near Canterbury, has written to parents of the 386 children on his school roll asking them to stop including peanuts in lunch boxes because of pupils suffering from nut allergies.

The head’s comments triggered an immediate response from Kent County Council, who urged all school heads in the county to consider their own situations.

KCC spokesperson Nadine Miller said: “We have no genetically modified food or nuts on our school lunch menus.

“Packed lunches are a matter for parents on a school-by-school basis but there is clearly a cause for concern in the light of the report from Blean.”

Schools nationwide are increasingly becoming “nut-free zones” as fears over allergies prompt bans on peanuts in packed lunches.

Mr Oliver has fallen short of making an outright ban on nuts but he is making every effort to discourage parents.

In his letter he says: “Increasing numbers of children are joining the school with severe nut allergies.

“Some of them have had major reactions from inhaling the smell of nuts. A trace of nuts on a child’s hand is enough to trigger a response.

“In order to ensure child safety, I would ask you all to avoid sending your child to school with any food which contains nuts.

“I am sure you will understand the need to be vigilant but we can only request this of parents.”

School governor Cllr John Gilbey said: “Peanut allergy is becoming increasingly common. All schools these days are aware of this allergy.

“Children seem to be more allergic these days to various things than they used to be. It’s getting worse every year, and in this case, the head teacher has acted very responsibly because he is aware of the sensitivity and the risk.”

An accidental casual contact with peanuts, or even the inhalation of small amounts of peanut particles can cause a severe allergic reaction and even death for those who suffer from the condition.

Information on nut allergies is available on the Food Standards Agency website, www.food.gov.uk

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