Feeding thousands of children each day is a job Alabama school lunch workers take seriously. Providing those workers with facts about food allergies was the topic of a seminar sponsored by the Alabama Peanut Producers Association (APPA) March 15.
The Alabama Food Service and Nutrition Expo in Montgomery attracted hundreds of food service workers from around the state and provided a perfect opportunity for APPA to share its message, said APPA Executive Director Caleb Bristow.
“America’s peanut farmers, including the 1,400 in Alabama, care deeply about food allergies,” Bristow said. “That’s why peanut farmers have directed the National Peanut Board to give more than $12 million toward funding food allergy research, education and outreach since its inception.”
The APPA brought in registered dietician nutritionist consultant for the National Peanut Board Sherry Coleman Collins to speak to food service workers at the expo. She said food allergies are frequently misdiagnosed.
“Many people mistakenly think they have a food allergy,” Collins said. “Truthfully, only about 0.6 percent of Americans have a peanut allergy, so more than 99 percent of Americans can enjoy peanuts without any problem. Some people think just being around peanuts can cause a life-threatening reaction, but research has shown anaphylaxis is caused by ingestion, not inhalation or skin contact.”
Collins works with schools nationwide to help them develop comprehensive food allergy management plans that help keep kids with food allergies safer, while allowing those without allergies to enjoy nutritious foods, including peanut butter.
“Peanuts and peanut butter provide a nutritious, versatile and delicious option for feeding children of all ages, and they’re affordable which, is so important during these trying economic times,” she said.
Collins said schools could provide an excellent setting for children who have food allergies to learn to manage their conditions with the help and supervision of responsible, knowledgeable adults.
“Peanuts are considered one of the top eight food allergens, so it’s important to America’s peanut farmers to be part of the solution,” Collins said.
For more information, visit PeanutAllergyFacts.org or ALPeanuts.com.