Column by Katie McClintic
McClintic is a sophomore public relations and marketing
major and can be reached at
They are at every restaurant, grocery store and in many foods that would surprise you. Tree nuts. They are a simple food that many people enjoy, but for those with a tree nut allergy, something as simple as eating at a restaurant can be difficult.
In recent years, awareness of peanut allergies has gone up significantly as so many children are now affected by the allergy. Because of this, restaurants and other food-related places are cautious about how they use and handle peanuts.
Meanwhile, the opposite seems to have happened with tree nuts. They are everywhere, and it can be difficult for those with an allergy to find food since nuts like almonds are found in almost everything. There needs to be just as much caution and awareness to tree nut allergies as there is for peanuts.
Many think that being cautious about peanuts is enough. According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, 1.8 million Americans are affected with tree nut allergies while medicinenet.com reports that about 4 million Americans suffer from peanut allergies. To some, it makes sense to be cautious about peanuts and not tree nuts. It makes sense that society, and especially schools, is cautious about peanut allergies since such a large population now has the allergy, but the same precautionary measures need to be taken with other allergies, too.
As a young student going to school when extensive peanut allergy rules began to emerge, I realized that tree nut allergies are typically ignored.
However, when it came to peanuts, children were not even allowed to bring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. Many schools across the U.S. do not allow peanuts inside their buildings, yet other allergenic foods are still allowed. I have experienced situations where a teacher has sat at his or her desk and munched on a bag of almonds and then touched everything in the classroom. But when a student accidentally brought peanuts to school without realizing it, the very same teacher made him or her throw the whole lunch away.
I understand the importance of taking precautionary measures, but sometimes, children need to be taught how to properly avoid their allergen instead of making the entire school put extra effort into keeping a small percentage of its students safe. It is very easy to teach a child how to avoid his or her allergen, and an easy solution for schools is to properly mark when there is a particular allergen in its food and then offer an alternative option that is just as enjoyable as the original. As a child, there is nothing more disappointing than having to eat fruit for dessert because the cake or brownies have nuts.
It is very easy to avoid tree nuts with all of the warnings, but there needs to be equal awareness about how many people are affected by the allergy. Schools and restaurants need to understand that being over-cautious about one allergy does not mean that they are taking care of the problem all together.