Saturday, June 21, 2014

Food Allergies and Ignorance

Okay, so there's an article going around Facebook, that I'm unable to find right now, about a 13-year-old girl who ate a food that had been around peanuts or had them in it, I'm not sure.  Either way, she ate the food.  Was fine.  Then out of nowhere, she went down and no amount of training or medication could help her and she died.  It's terrible and I really feel for the family's lost.  My husband had food allergies growing up and is allergic to shellfish, so I find myself worrying about him and about my kids developing food allergies.

However, in the article, the family are advocating that the rest of the world change and actually think about those with food allergies.  Pretty much, no peanuts anywhere.  Like, that extreme, or so I understood.

...

Well, if we have to think about those with peanut allergies, then we have to also ban foods with diary, soy, wheat, gluten, shellfish, and so on to accommodate others with food allergies.  Right?  That's not feesable.  I understand that you're upset about what happened, but your logic doesn't make any sense right now.  Not too mention that you're being rather selfish in only thinking about peanut allergies; there are other allergies out there.  And in assuming that all of the world is ignorant about food allergies because they world doesn't have kids with food allergies (although I was surprised to read that there are many people who think that food allergies [especially in children] is bull).  Look at many restaurants and fast food joints.  Often you'll see stickers on the windows with warnings of what their food may contain or may have been prepared around.

The comments in this one particular article I read were....varied.  But there was a lot of "If you don't understand, then you must not have children/are extremely stupid and ignorant."  Like, really?  Come on.  Grow up.  I hate that school of thought, of "if you disagree then you're a dumbass" or "you just don't get it because you don't have children."  How about, "you don't know what it's like to have food allergies that can kill you".  Honey, I may not have food allergies, but I do have other allergies that can be fatal to me, and I have very close loved ones and friends with potential fatal allergies.  Calm that shit down.  Special Snowflake Syndrome, man.  I will admit that some of the other comments were trollish, but a lot of them were true.  We shouldn't have to not eat foods that you're allergic to because you're allergic to them.  We're not.  So...

As a parent/guardian, it's your job to do the research and make sure that your child doesn't eat this stuff.  Tell friends, family, the school, camp, whatever about these allergies, if you're able to.  LET THEM KNOW!  How else are they going to know that someone has a specific food allergy?  They're just supposed to know?  Come on!  And to be sure that the EPI pens are nearby.  As a parent/guardian, it's also your job to make sure that you've educated your child to the best of your ability about the whys, instead of playing this victim card, as I saw on many comments of those with these kids.  There were a lot of woe-is-me and victims on that thread.  It was pathetic and did not make me respect those parents and guardians for their "plight".

Like listen yall, my youngest son almost died two weeks ago because he caught the common cold.  The strain he caught didn't affect adults or other children after a certain age.  And it travels through skin contact and on clothing.  The people who held my son that day were careful, yet my child still nearly died.  So should I go around saying, "If you want to hold or be near my kids, you need to completely sterilize yourself" or "you need to live in a bubble"?  No.  That's not realistic!  That's ignorant.  I'm not going to be afraid of the world, or of exposing my children to it, because of this incident.  Nor am I going to make them fearful.  I am smarter and am more cautious, yes, but as their parent, as their mother, it's my job to keep them safe, to be observant, to educate others, and if I don't like a situation or a person, it's my job to keep my children away from that.  It's not the rest of the world's job to do so.  Yes, I'll educate them to the best of my ability and to their ability to comprehend.  Your job, not the worlds.

However, if know you're sick or perhaps have been around sick people, that's your job to be educated and hopefully know to not go around babies, kids, and hell even those that you know have auto-immune disease!  If you don't know, hopefully others with certain concerns (aka guardians [and those with auto-immune disease] hopefully, they'll speak up and/or ask questions).  But....people don't always do this.  Kids/adults get sick.  Babies die.  Sometimes there's not a whole lot that you can do about it.  Shit happens, and often without reason or control.

Shit, my brother is deathly allergic to fire ants.  Does that mean that states with those varmints should eradicate the species to accommodate those like him???  No!  However it means that he needs to be educated about areas with fire ants, and know what they look like.  Maybe even ask friends if they have a problem with them at their homes, or whatever, I don't know what he does.  Probably nothing that detailed.  And to always keep his EPI pens on him just in case.  It's his allergy and his duty to keep himself alive.  It's not everyone else's problem!

I'm seriously allergic to wood and wolf spiders!  I'm also very much allergic to poison ivy!  And one person in my family, it's fatal to them!  Do we expect others to make sure these creatures and plants aren't anywhere in their homes or around their properties?  No.  Because it's our job to know what these things look like and to take charge of the situation.  That our job, not the worlds.

Back to food allergies, as someone who prepares/cooks food, whether you're a restaurant or a it's a family pot luck, it's your job to ask questions.  For example, anytime someone comes over who I don't know that well or whatever, I usually ask if they don't say anything.  Or I let them know ahead of time that this has whatever in it.  Another example, I have an uncle who's allergic to peanuts, a SIL who's allergic to some ingredient in peanut butter, and a friend who's allergic to diary.  When I make food for family gatherings, I keep them in mind.  Either I'll make them something separate and clearly mark the food (and often keep them away from each other) or I'll just tell them/mark the dish.  They can partake of the food if they want.  If they have concerns, they can make the choice to not eat it.  They have the ability to ask questions and make a decision themselves.

If you make food, especially for large events, it's your job to think about those with food allergies, and be smart when preparing food in your kitchen.  Or at least label the food with ingredients or warnings.
I do agree that there needs to be more education on food allergies, especially when preparing or cooking food in any environment.  Obviously some places, like the home, are going to be more tricky than others (although I've seen many recipe books that mention or give warnings about food allergies; bravo).  You can't force knowledge or the ability to care on others.  But you can spread the word, and not turn into a childish prick when someone disagrees.

Those with allergies or care for those with them, they need to also be educated.  To take charge, and to not expect people to understand, to already know, and to accommodate.  For the most part, you're in control.  It's your job to keep your child, grandchild, niece/nephew, and yourself alive.  Don't rely on others.  Speak up and be heard.  Take charge and be confident about it.  No one likes a victim.   You need to take and be responsible for yourself.

(also posted on The Wren's Nest and on my Facebook)

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