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Avon School implements peanut ban

AVON -- The Avon School District is saying no to nuts.

In January, the district banned peanuts and peanut products, such as peanut butter or granola bars, and all other nuts and nut products, which means none of those products is allowed at the school at any time.

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The ban applies to any food brought in by students, teachers and other individuals, and the food provided by the school's food service provider. Any snacks or treats brought into classrooms must also have an ingredient label.

According to Avon Superintendent Tom Culver, the ban was implemented because of one student enrolled at the school who has a severe peanut allergy. There are 261 students enrolled in the district.

In certain people, peanuts can cause a severe, potentially fatal, allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis, which often begins within minutes of being exposed and can cause a skin reaction, swelling of the throat and low blood pressure, according to Food Allergy Research & Education, or FARE, an advocacy group for people with food allergies.

Culver said the district sent a letter to inform parents of the ban, which was approved by the district's school board before it was implemented.

"Our job at the school is to protect the kids," Culver said. "That's what we're going to do."

There was very little opposition to the ban among parents, Culver said.

"Most people would rather be a little inconvenienced than be worried about affecting the health of a child," Culver said.

Even second-hand exposure to peanut residue can cause reactions in some people with severe allergies, Culver said. As a result, the district's policy advises parents to ensure that any peanut residue is cleaned from students' teeth, hands, clothing and other personal items before entering the school.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the prevalence of food allergies among children in the U.S. increased by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011. An estimated 9 million adults and 6 million children in the U.S. have some type of food allergy.