As awareness of peanut allergies grow, have bans and allergen-free zones gone too far?

Study shows bans not effective at schools

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DENVER -- The Rockies hosted a special group at Coors Field Monday – a group of children with peanut allergies who were given a secure area to watch Monday's game against the San Francisco Giants. 

Peanuts have recently been banned at schools and on flights. But it’s led many to question how big an issue a peanut allergy can be: Are they a serious concern or much ado about nothing?

Far from the peanuts and Cracker Jack, parents like Terri Schaffer watched the Rockies win with her daughter.

“It’s normally a pretty stressful experience. She has a peanut allergy and we sit out in the stands and people just throw their peanuts everywhere. So, the whole game you're worried your child is going to sick,” Schaffer said.

But she and her daughter are in the minority. According to a recent food allergy study, there were 16 food allergy related deaths in 2014-2015 — of those deaths, there are no hard numbers to know how many are peanut related. For some perspective, 922 Americans fell out of bed and died in 2015.

Even so, peanuts have been banned on airlines and in schools – like Coyote Creek Elementary School in Douglas County. So why is the peanut getting such a bad rap?

First off, some studies show peanuts are simply getting more publicity because more allergic cases are being reported than ever before.

Also, peanuts can be deadly in rare cases, as in the case of 16-year-old Simon Katz from Chatfield High School, who died in 2015 after eating s’mores that contained peanut butter. 

But a study by the American Council of Science and Health found that schools that banned peanuts had the same number of peanut incidents as schools with no peanut policies.  

Parents like Julie Napier say a blanket policy – even after a tragedy – sets a dangerous precedent.

“Where do you draw the line? You ban peanuts today, what else are you going to ban?” she wondered.

On the flip side, Alison Fulton says schools should do everything they can to protect students.

"You have to watch out for the best interests of every single child. So, I think they need to have those bans in place,” she said.

Skylar Webster says the family of the child with the allergy should bear the responsibility of peanut safety.

“I think a happy medium, where you're making accommodations for them but not necessarily banning it altogether, is better,” Webster said.

Still, the allergies are a serious issue for parents like Melissa Bronson, whose son Wyatt attended the Rockies game.

“It’s exciting to see him at the stadium after watching so many games at home,” she said.

But the numbers show that the peanut too, deserves a break.

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