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Daycare centres with children with severe food allergies


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#1 Bondia

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

My local preschool has just made the decision for the whole preschool to go dairy, egg and nut-free - because of several children with severe allergies.

I'm interested in whether other centres have gone this way, and if not, how they manage children with severe allergies?

The reaction we are getting at the moment is mixed. It's in a very low income area and I know for some parents the substitutes can seem expensive.

What are other's thoughts on this?

#2 premmie_29weeks

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:17 PM

I can understand they want to be inclusive, but the combination of all three is quite limiting...my son loves yoghurt, cheese and peanut butter. The centre he is going to this year is sesame and nut free due to allergies...and that to me is fine. Removing dairy and egg as well I think makes it very limiting, not in themselves but because so many other food contain traces of all three...



#3 mumtoactivetoddler

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

I think the nut free is reasonable, I think the dairy and egg free is totally unreasonable. To be honest dairy and egg free take away a significant number of options, in fact for some kids almost all food they eat for lunch would include these. As someone who has had an egg allergic child, tbh the substitutes are a pain in the butt. I never ever managed to get the egg substitiute to work and banana and apple sauce only work for some things. They also realistically change the texture and taste of a lot of things. I think dairy is unreasonabe as I think a cheese sandwhich is a good lunch and also quite a lot of breads have milk in them.

What I actually think is going to happen is that most parents will ignore it, and send food with at least these things cooked in it especially milk and butter (and no oil is not a substitute and the dairy free marg is disgusting and is not a natural food). This means that instead of managing the fact there is dairy and egg at the preschool, there will be a false perception that it is safe and the child is actually in more danger. I honestly think you may find people will actually try and move to a more reasonable preschool.

#4 FeralAlpacasFool

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:19 PM

I have seen a child go in to anaphylactic shock and it was very scary- and it wasn't even my child so I imagine parents of children with severe allergies would be terrified when this happens. However it would be very hard for all parents and staff for that matter, to go dairy, eggs and nut free.

I am currently trialling dairy-free to see if it makes a difference with DD2's reflux and eczema and I must admit its tough. To rule out eggs and nuts as well? A big challenge.

I know parents of kids with allergies have it tougher, but I really don't see how it would be possible to ensure the entire preschool/daycare was egg, nut and dairy free. And btw are we talking traces of are ok, or completely free?

#5 kadoodle

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:21 PM

The gym creche I send my kids to is nut, egg and dairy free due to several kids with severe allergies.  It's no skin off my nose to send a piece of fruit or some cut up veggies for a snack.  I could imagine it would be much more problematic if a proper meal and additional snacks was needed to be provided for a long day stay.

But what's the alternative?  A classmate dies or gets very sick?

#6 barrington

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:22 PM

Both my children's schools are nut and egg free.  Whether or not dairy would be an issue would depend on how restrictive the dairy free is.  



#7 epl0822

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:22 PM

Totally ridiculous. I don't get why daycares insist on inconveniencing the vast majority of people for the sake of being inclusive to a few. When I have special circumstances I don't expect everybody's decisions and experiences to revolve around mine and cater to my own individual needs.

#8 deejie

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:27 PM

DS1 has allergies (including anaphylaxis) to egg, dairy and peanut amongst a few other things as well.

The child care centre he attends is nut free.

The 3 and 4 year old kindergarten I hope to get him in to is nut free.

I must admit I worry about the things he is allergic to. HUGELY. Until you are the parent of an anaphylactic child watching their face blow up before your eyes and having uncontrollable coughing fits in the back of an ambulance, you have no idea of the terror that hangs over our head every day.

One tiny piece of egg from someone's sandwich would be all it takes. How can a kindergarten teacher fully supervise a group of 3/4 year olds who *cannot be trusted* with food choices that affect their health (essentially, perhaps their life). We do our best to drum into DS1 not to accept food off other children or adults. But in preschool, I would not place his life in to his own hands. He will no doubt become more reliable as he gets older, but preschool? No.

Yes, it is a pain for the other parents. But honestly, dairy-free margarine is the same cost as the regular one. Skip the cheese for something else. Skipping the yoghurt for a day won't hurt. Don't pack biscuits with egg, nuts or dairy in them (there are HEAPS freely available in the supermarket, stock standard Arnotts ones). Low socioeconomic just doesn't cut it as an excuse for me.

It sounds as though the preschool has done a poor job of providing lists of suitable alternatives. Can they liaise with the parents of the allergic children? They will have an extensive list of allergen friendly foods that can be packed for snacks or lunches.

#9 solongsuckers

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:27 PM

QUOTE (epl0822 @ 28/01/2013, 03:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Totally ridiculous. I don't get why daycares insist on inconveniencing the vast majority of people for the sake of being inclusive to a few. When I have special circumstances I don't expect everybody's decisions and experiences to revolve around mine and cater to my own individual needs.


I actually agree with this and I do have a child with severe allergies. I don't expect anything to be excluded for other children. The only time that I do really appreciate if they do that though is if it is something in a group that all the kids will be eating and sharing.

#10 TillyTake2

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:28 PM

QUOTE (barrington @ 28/01/2013, 03:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Both my children's schools are nut and egg free.  Whether or not dairy would be an issue would depend on how restrictive the dairy free is.


What do you mean how restrictive dairy free is. Dairy free is dairy free, there are no "grades".

My son is allergic to dairy & soy so I know how hard avoiding these things is. Personally, as the parent of an allergic child I would prefer the preschool wasn't free of the allergens but that the staff were villigent about supervision.

Nut & egg allergies are different as they can quite often be touch or airborn sensitive so if a child has an egg sandwhich & doesn't wash their hands then plays with something the allergic child touches then they can react. I've not come accross kids that are touch or airborn sensitive to dairy so it is quite different. It would be reasonable to eliminate allergens if a child was touch or air sensitive to it as that is the only way to protect them.

#11 deejie

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:29 PM

QUOTE (epl0822 @ 28/01/2013, 03:22 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Totally ridiculous. I don't get why daycares insist on inconveniencing the vast majority of people for the sake of being inclusive to a few. When I have special circumstances I don't expect everybody's decisions and experiences to revolve around mine and cater to my own individual needs.


Daycares generally provide the food for the children who are attending, so I really don't understand your issue here?



#12 CallMeFeral

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:35 PM

Wow, that's hard.
Our centre is nut free, there is a child with severe allergies in DD's class, I believe, he has his own food - not sure how they police cross contamination etc (it's part of a daycare though, so they cook there).

Hard call. On the one hand it's someone's life - on the other hand dairy and egg free really does cut down a LOT of food and some children are fussy...

#13 Bondia

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:38 PM

To clarify a few things:

- This is a preschool where you bring lunch for the child... Crackers and fruit are provided by the preschool for morning tea. The preschool closes at 3 so arvo tea is not an issue - so we are talking one meal only.

- Children attending are from age 2 upwards... One of the allergic children is only 2 and any traces of dairy eg a dot of yoghurt on a chair would be enough to cause a reaction.

- The children with allergies are not at the centre every day but staff felt it was easier to have a blanket rule, than have set days with different requirements. They were concerned parents owuld forget which day was which and not be vigilant.

- The concern is not just for the safety of the allergic children - but also bearing in mind the educators, who are feeling quite stressed at the risks, and the other children who may be traumatised if a child becomes ill.

#14 SMforshort

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:46 PM

I am incredibly fortunate to have children without allergy issues.

If my kids were at that preschool I would want to do everything I could to assist the parents and carers of these children with allergies.

But....

I would need some help adjusting my meal plans to suit.  I have never had to deal with allergy issues before.

Maybe a list of suggested lunch ideas could be sent home, including brand names of bread, fillings etc that would be safe.  I'm sure if I had a list like this I could find lunch ideas that would suit my kids and this would take away some of the anxiety that I may inadvertantly do the wrong thing.

#15 _Alana_

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:52 PM

Our centre is already nut and egg free and also halal. Than my sons meals are dairy free too. Luckily he can have soy and dairy free butter so his meals are replaced to suit him. I work there and the cook has no trouble with this.
It's hard to say whether this should be done across the country but it's certainly not hard to do and if it just makes life easier for everyone why not ??

#16 deejie

Posted 28 January 2013 - 02:53 PM

QUOTE (Bondia @ 28/01/2013, 03:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
To clarify a few things:

- This is a preschool where you bring lunch for the child... Crackers and fruit are provided by the preschool for morning tea. The preschool closes at 3 so arvo tea is not an issue - so we are talking one meal only.

- Children attending are from age 2 upwards... One of the allergic children is only 2 and any traces of dairy eg a dot of yoghurt on a chair would be enough to cause a reaction.

- The children with allergies are not at the centre every day but staff felt it was easier to have a blanket rule, than have set days with different requirements. They were concerned parents owuld forget which day was which and not be vigilant.

- The concern is not just for the safety of the allergic children - but also bearing in mind the educators, who are feeling quite stressed at the risks, and the other children who may be traumatised if a child becomes ill.


Thanks for the clarification OP. I can sympathise with the severity of the reaction-- a dot of yoghurt on a chair when my DS1 was 2 would have caused him to break out in to hives (contact allergy). If he ingested it accidentally, he would have broken out in hives all over his face and body. His lips would have swollen. He would vomit, then dry retch for an hour after that. If it was a drop of egg, in goes the epipen and off to hospital.

All daycare/preschool centres have to write an allergy management plan for each child with an allergy. Due to the severity of allergies, this is how they have deemed them best managed. It seems however their communication with the parents of other children is very poor and unfortunately in this case the poor allergic child and/or their parents cops the blame.

I would write to them personally (encourage other parents to do the same) and request a list of appropriate foods. Admittedly, when I first had to go egg/dairy/nut free I completely freaked out because it seemed absolutely impossible. It truly is not as hard as it sounds.

#17 barrington

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:05 PM

QUOTE
What do you mean how restrictive dairy free is. Dairy free is dairy free, there are no "grades".
The first page I opened after a quick google search included bread and deli ham as containing dairy.  Are they banning those items or just yoghurt, cheese etc.

In addition, even though my children's school is egg free, you are still allowed to bring in homemade biscuits that are cooked using an egg.

#18 Phascogale

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:07 PM

It's going to be extremely hard to police and it will create a sense of safety that won't actually be there. The nut part is probably fair enough but not the dairy and egg.

What happens when a child brings a sandwich that is on what looks like ordinary bread, but it actually contains milk.  You aren't going to know.  There are a lot of products that don't seem to contain dairy but you will find milk in the flavourings (usually you read the ingredients and they look dairy free but on the allergen advice statement there will be something said that it contains milk products).  Unless the kids are bringing in the packets and the labels you won't know.

Also what do you do when a parent bakes something then says that it's dairy free but it's not?

If it was a preschool that ran for 2-4 hours then having a meal of crackers and fruit would be okay but it sounds like the kids will be there from 9-3 which is a long time to go without a more substantial meal.  One day a week is less of an issue but if there are kids attending 3/4 or more days a week then this is much more of a concern.

Supervision of eating (probably making sure the kids in question are watched to make sure they don't eat/touch anyone elses meal) will probably be safer.  And then supervising hand washing before and after eating (plus wiping everything down too).

Allergy kids are very good at watching their intake and it's drummed into them from very early on and they know how they feel when they have a reaction.  However 2 or 3 is a bit young to manage this.  Older 4/5 year olds are much better.  This needs to continue where ever they go and not be complacent at preschool or kinder because you can never really be sure.

Anaphalaxis Australia don't advocate for banning foods for that sense of complacency.  Maybe the centre needs to provide all meals if they want to go down this route.

I have a child allergic to all three of these allergens.



#19 2bundles

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:09 PM

What happens if the next enrolment has a wheat allergy, and the next soy?   Somewhere you need to draw the line. I'm not sure where that is.

I have a child who has had an anaphylactic episode, and at daycare age had several allergies. I never asked the centre to stop other people sending those foods.

We ate at cafes, other people's houses etc. I was "alert but not alarmed".

I have no problem with avoiding a few things, but it is more important that the child is vigilant. Schools will never be as vigilant as preschool/daycare.

Hard call

#20 eskimoo

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:10 PM

Way off topic but Deejie, what Arnotts biscuits do you buy for your DS?   My DD has the same allergies but not to the extent you have to deal with and I'd love to expand our snack options for out and about original.gif
Thanks original.gif

#21 solongsuckers

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:16 PM

QUOTE (TillyTake2 @ 28/01/2013, 03:28 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Nut & egg allergies are different as they can quite often be touch or airborn sensitive so if a child has an egg sandwhich & doesn't wash their hands then plays with something the allergic child touches then they can react. I've not come accross kids that are touch or airborn sensitive to dairy so it is quite different. It would be reasonable to eliminate allergens if a child was touch or air sensitive to it as that is the only way to protect them.


One kinder my son went to claimed that they couldn't have any egg or nut stuff at all in case of allergies. So no nut or egg products at all. I gave my opinion which differed from theirs and they told me how they didn't even have egg cartons in case someone was that allergic they couldn't touch it.

BUT, they didn't make anyone wash their hands when they came in.

So you can't have egg cartons in case someone has a reaction to it but I could give my kid peanut butter and eggs on toast and not wash his hands and send him to kinder and no one would even know. I think they missed the mark there.

If you're going to go all out, do it right!

#22 solongsuckers

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

QUOTE (Phascogale @ 28/01/2013, 04:07 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
It's going to be extremely hard to police and it will create a sense of safety that won't actually be there.


This is exactly why I don't expect my child's daycare, kinder, etc to have a ban on any of the foods she is allergic to

#23 Elizabethandfriend

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:19 PM

Our kinder has been egg, dairy and nut free for a few years and last year we nearly had to go 'wheat free' as well (luckily the child who was allergic to wheat had tests that showed it was as no longer an issue before kinder started).

Its very restrictive but really - the children's safety has to come first.

it has also been fantastic for promoting healthy eating - virtually every lunchbox is now full of fruit and vegetables with very few processed foods.  My daughter is now used to that diet and i intend to continue it at school.

#24 Let_it_Rain

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:26 PM

QUOTE (deejie @ 28/01/2013, 03:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
One tiny piece of egg from someone's sandwich would be all it takes. How can a kindergarten teacher fully supervise a group of 3/4 year olds who *cannot be trusted* with food choices that affect their health (essentially, perhaps their life). We do our best to drum into DS1 not to accept food off other children or adults. But in preschool, I would not place his life in to his own hands. He will no doubt become more reliable as he gets older, but preschool? No.

Yes, it is a pain for the other parents. But honestly, dairy-free margarine is the same cost as the regular one. Skip the cheese for something else. Skipping the yoghurt for a day won't hurt. Don't pack biscuits with egg, nuts or dairy in them (there are HEAPS freely available in the supermarket, stock standard Arnotts ones). Low socioeconomic just doesn't cut it as an excuse for me.


What happens if a child has had eggs for breakfast and not washed their hands properly, or has got some on their clothing.

When I read of these contact allergies I honestly can not see how the kids can attend a daycare environment just due to the fact kids will touch and are generally not 100% clean.

I also can not believe the dairy free options are the same price. Maybe they are the same price as some of the more expensive brands, but a lot more expensive then generic products that a lot of people buy to save money.

QUOTE (2bundles @ 28/01/2013, 04:09 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
What happens if the next enrolment has a wheat allergy, and the next soy?   Somewhere you need to draw the line. I'm not sure where that is.



This sums of my views on it as well. Unfortunately it reaches a point where the needs of everyone can not be met if exclusion of allergens is required.

#25 a letter to Elise.

Posted 28 January 2013 - 03:33 PM

I think it's great, but I would be concerned that some parents wouldn't adhere to it properly. I am gluten free and dairy free, and some people just dont take it seriously so I'd prefer that the centre provided food to make sure. If it meant the safety of someone's child, I'd happily do whatever they suggested. I would want some suggestions of safe foods though.
If my children have coeliacs as well, I wouldn't want the whole centre to be gluten free on their account, but I would want assurances of separate food preparation. The difference for me is that while that they could get sick from cross contamination, it doesn't carry the extreme risks of a severe food allergy.




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