By Heather Legg
Over the years there has been much debate over banning peanuts on airplanes. It usually is up to the airlines, and some have taken it in to consideration, others haven’t done anything and some implement policies on as needed basis. Continental, United, US Airways and JetBlue no longer serve peanuts, other airlines still do.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was flying with her family when they ended up in a “peanut free zone.” Apparently, a passenger had requested this who had an allergy, and where my friend was seated was right in the middle of the zone. Of course, her son, around 5 at the time, was looking forward to the peanuts. The flight attendant gave him extra but made sure he didn’t eat them on the plane.
Now however, it is federal regulators who are considering restriction of even a ban on peanuts being served on commercial airlines. In an article in the Washington Post, the possible ban is discussed and though many with food allergies would be happy to see the ban, peanut farmers and food packagers feel it “it would be overreaching and unfair to their legume.”
As of now, it is undecided what will be done, but according to the article, the Transportation Department is asking for input and comment on some possible implementations, though still is holding onto the option of doing nothing.
Last week, the department gave notice that it is gathering feedback from allergy sufferers, medical experts, the food industry and the public on whether to ban or restrict in-flight peanuts. Three options were suggested, along with other proposed consumer protections for air travelers: banning service of peanuts on all planes, prohibiting peanuts only when an allergic passenger requests it in advance, or requiring an undefined “peanut-free zone” flight when a passenger asks for one.
The concerns are coming from travelers with allergies, either themselves or their children. Some say the allergy is so severe they do not fly because of their fear of risk of exposure to the peanuts. Some studies have shown that sometimes a reaction or symptoms have been reported during a flight, but very few were severe or life threatening.
It is an interesting debate, as is the recent one on peanuts in ball parks. In fact, in the above mentioned article, one CEO of a peanut packaging company argues that the peanut is a great American snack, “What’s next? Is it banning peanuts in ballparks?” He may need to be careful of what he suggests.