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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 9:38 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
Hello Everyone,
I need some advice and ideas. A brand new large community center opened in our town this year. It is beautiful - 2 NHL sized arenas, large gym, children's play room, seniors room and other meeting rooms. My children love it. We are there often as we are involved in hockey and we participate in other programs run there.

The canteen was only recently set up and opened. They have tried to offer more healthy choices to visitors which I think is terrific. In addition to pizza and hot dogs there is soup and chilli. I was very surprised to find this week that they have started to offer toasted bagels with peanut butter and that they are also selling bags of peanuts and mixed nuts. Now while I certainly would not expect this public space to be peanut free (and peanuts are only one of our allergens) I was disappointed that there would be so much peanut product sold. The toasted bagels with PB worry me the most. I can see runny peanut butter dripping off of the bagels. I see sticky hands going into dressing rooms and opening doors. There are Reese PB cups sold but they worry me the least.

In schools, the goal of allergen management is to reduce the risk of reactions. I would think that this general goal would be very applicable to a public community center. I would never assume or ask for the canteen or the center to be PB free or milk or egg free or to be free of any of the other major allergens. However, PB is so common in the population and it is very tricky to clean and it takes so little to cause a reaction (which I know all of you know). It would seem very reasonable to me to ask that the PB bagels and the bags of salted peanuts be taken off the menu.

I am going to write a letter to the manager of the center and the town councillors who oversee parks and rec about the issue. I am wondering a few things:
- What has been your experience at other local community centers? Are peanut products widely
sold?
- I think I read information about a study on the difficulty of cleaning up PB. Does anyone recall
this study?
- Any other ideas of what to include in my letter?

What do you think about this situation? Am I reasonable asking the canteen to limit the sale of peanut products? I don't even care as much about the Reese PB cups.
Thanks for your feedback,
Kate

_________________
13 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
10 year old son - no allergies


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 10:46 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 22, 2005 11:17 pm
Posts: 6456
Location: Ottawa
If it's a community building, it should strive to be allergy aware. Let me think about this and get back to you this afternoon...

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Moderator
Daughter: asthma, allergies to egg, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, most legumes (not soy) & penicillin. Developing hayfever type allergies.
Husband: no allergies
Me: allergies to some tree that flowers in May
Cat: allergic to beef, pork and lamb


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 11:56 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
Thanks! Anyone else any thoughts?

_________________
13 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
10 year old son - no allergies


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 12:52 pm 
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Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 12:05 am
Posts: 642
Location: AB, Canada
It's difficult, people really have a devotion to PB and it's hard to get around. Even places that are quite allergy aware will have little packets of PB with their jams & honeys. Another problem I have found with public buildings is people bringing their own snacks. It would be great to get the bags of peanuts out of the canteen, but many people bring baggies with trail mix for their kids, and I've seen little ones dropping peanuts etc while eating. It makes me paranoid and mildly nauseous. It's possible they haven't even though of it, so definitely worth bringing up. Good luck!

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DSs 7,7,9 all PA


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 1:16 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 4:26 pm
Posts: 406
I agree that there are many places where allergy accommodations need to be made, and many others where we need to learn how to live in a world where most people consume our allergens on a daily basis. I'm not really sure where this falls on that spectrum, and I am leaning closer to the latter.

Answers to your questions:

I haven't had a contact reaction at our community centre yet, even with their wide selection of nutty stuff. I am quite vigilant about wiping down any equipment I use before and after using it. I have had contact reactions at other places including the supermarket, relatives' houses, and even the mall.

The study I read said that peanut butter residue can be effectively removed with industrial wipes, thorough cleaning with soap and water (scrubbing, not just a light wipe), and some industrial cleaners. I don't have a link - I'm sure someone else does.

And some random comments on the matter:

I won't lie; the community centre has every right to sell whatever food it chooses, and bonus points to them for keeping a healthier selection. Our local pool concession has similar snacks available, including a bunch of items with peanuts/nuts and other top 10 allergens. Nuts are fairly popular because they are high in protein and magnesium: a good post-workout snack for people without allergies.

Due to that little fact, I am not sure if they would get rid of the nuts altogether, and I personally wouldn't expect them to. However, perhaps they could reduce some contamination risks for everyone with allergies by implementing a few things. They could have the nuts in sealed packages so they don't contaminate the preparation surfaces at the concession. For instance, instead of serving a bagel with peanut butter, have little packets of peanut butter the customers can take away and spread on the bagel themselves at a table. There could even be signs at the concession area reminding people to wash their hands before and after eating. And the staff should clean tables often to minimise all allergens (and germs) left behind.

Some tips for using community fitness centres for people with allergies - make sure you use the cleaning wipes provided (they should have them everywhere!) to wipe down any equipment you use before and after you use it. (That's the rule at our community fitness centre.) Always have your auto-injectors with you (not in a locker!!) or give them to the lifeguard and wear medical ID. I used to work at these types of facilities, and the staff, lifeguards in particular, like to know who has allergies or medical conditions so they can look out for reactions, seizures, or other situations that may need immediate attention.

The reality is, even if they eliminate peanuts/nuts from the concession, people will always bring them in from home for snacks or lunch. A lot of people without allergies eat peanuts and nuts... at the mall, in the playground, everywhere. We have to do the best we can to learn to live with that - by not touching our faces, wiping things down as needed, carrying auto-injectors, and being careful.

Sorry it's probably not the response you were looking for, and I know some people will disagree with me. Good luck with your letter.

_________________
anaphylaxis to tree nuts and peanuts; asthmatic, dairy intolerant, vegan
other family members allergic to to dairy, egg, peanut, peach, banana, sesame, environmentals


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 2:45 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 799
Location: Vancouver, BC
I, too, would be disappointed to see so many peanut products sold. I would be impressed if a community centre decided to reduce allergens, but I don't think I would request them to do so.

To me, a community centre is different from a school, as parents are with their children at a community centre and can watch them more closely than in a classroom with 1 teacher and 24 students, or two supervision aides and 200 kids eating lunch!

I think I would send a letter but focus on staff training to reduce cross contamination, and perhaps signage to encourage people to wash their hards after eating rather than asking them to eliminate certain menu items. I would then treat the whole area as 'may contain' and make sure we bring all our own food when going there, and wipe surfaces and hands carefully if needing to eat there.

It's tricky as PN is such a common allergen but at the same time, such as staple for other families without allergies. It's also a good protein source for lower income families, and healthier as a snack than many others that are laden in sugar and whatever preservatives.

I have so far kept the kids away from sporting events where I know there will be bags of in-the-shell peanuts sold, as people tend to toss the shells everywhere. At our local arena where the minor hockey is played, they do sell peanuts, but didn't sell them for the Disney on Ice event that was held there. I was grateful for that, and sent DD there with a sitter (DH and I were unable to go) armed with wipes and her own food/drinks.

When we go to our local Community Centre, I see peanut and nut products in the vending machines. We just bring our own food, and wipe down hands and surfaces. I haven't actually gone up to the canteen to see what they have there, but have never noticed people walking around with peanut butter bagels or similar.

Good luck with your letter. I hope they are responsive to your requests.

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 4:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 924
Location: Oakville, Ontario
I completely agree with SpaceCanada. I felt your comments were very well worded. I realise there will be differing opinions on this, but I personally agree with your approach. Our son has so many allergens (beyond peanuts and tree nuts), so we are accustomed to living our lives this way. We take part in lots of activities at our local community centres and sports parks (for hockey, swimming, baseball/softball, skiing, workout gym, etc.), so we are there quite a bit. Eating outside our home has a whole different set of rules and requirements. We would never order food from the canteen; and if we do eat when we're out, we do so very carefully with our own safe snacks, handwashing, wipes, protection for table/picnic table. We live a full life, with lots of social outings and various sports. We anticipate encountering our sons allergens everywhere we go. It's not easy, and we have to remind him constantly to wash his hands, use wipes, to not touch his face, etc. (it's quite stressful, I will admit... I'm waiting for the day when he is mature enough to handle this completely on his own :wink: ... but we're not there yet!) I certainly think there is no harm, at all, in writing letters of request, but I would still not consider this to be a guarantee of safety since anyone can bring any food they like into these public places. Personally, we are doing everything we can to teach our son to care for his own safety and health. We are teaching him to be careful with his food allergies everywhere he goes outside our home - this includes school, the grocery store, other people's homes, sports activities, the bus, the train, the amusement park, EVERYWHERE. He does not expect a safety zone, outside our home, because it simply does not exist when you are dealing with so many allergens.

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:32 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
I would like to clarify and repeat a few things from my original message. I would never expect the community center or any other public space to be allergen free. I am very aware that people will be bringing in their own food to public locations. We are always aware of our surroundings and carry her epipen. I would never expect that my daughter could order food from the canteen. My concerns over the sale of peanut products never were related to being able to buy food there.

My concern is that by selling many peanut products from the canteen, the risk of reaction in a very well used public space increases for PA individuals. Peanuts are not my daughter's only allergen either. This center is used by all ages and the local hockey program is based there. There really isn't a seating area near the canteen either so that means that the food is being eaten in the stands, dressing rooms, gym etc.

As I said before, I am not so concerned about the PB cups sold - they are sold everywhere - generally not too messy. What concerns me most is the hot toasted bagels with PB dripping off of them. There are other alternatives which could be used. Given the sticky nature of this menu item and the likelyhood that doors and many surfaces would be contaminated with a hard to clean, very common life-threatening allergen - it just seemed like perhaps a second thought should be given to this menu choice. Our local YMCA discourages nut products and doesn't sell them to help reduce the risk of reactions.

As for children being well supervised - my daughter is 10. She is getting to an age where she wants some freedom to participate in programs and to wander off at times. I am not sure that I would let her do that now.

_________________
13 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
10 year old son - no allergies


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2011 6:34 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
I also agree with Julie and Space Canada's approach to this issue. However in my perfect world I would wish the world was food free outside of our homes but somehow...don't think that will ever happen. :?

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 26, 2011 12:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2007 2:45 pm
Posts: 799
Location: Vancouver, BC
Thanks for clarifying, Kate. My kids are still of the age where they are supervised, so maybe I'll change my tune once they are older and capable of wandering off on their own.

_________________
DD 2004 Allergy to peanuts, egg, sesame, and new: lentils and chick peas
DS 2006 Allergy to peanuts, tree nuts, milk, egg, kiwi fruit, eczema


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:49 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:23 pm
Posts: 129
ditto space canada, julie and BC2007.
We are never in a position to purchase food from a canteen due to the allergens my son is dealing with and we know that where ever we go, they are ALWAYS there when ever someone is eating (whether I can see it or not).

_________________
twin boys-
c-eosinophilic oesophagitis
j-avoids peanut, sunflower, pineapple all ana-sensitised to maccadaemia.pecan.Passed barley (previous ana) last year...out grew egg ana and peanut at 3 years..became re sensitised with ana at 6 years to peanut.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 12:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2005 11:21 am
Posts: 687
Location: Cobourg, ON
I don't feel that people are reading my messages entirely. I never wanted to be able to buy food from the canteen at the arena. I don't expect the community center to be allergen free. What I am concerned about are oily gressy hands which have eaten PB on toasted bagels touching surfaces all around the center (dressing rooms, washrooms, drinking fountains, seats etc) since there isn't a seating area near the canteen.

Unlike other community/public spaces (malls, churches, parks), people and children spend a lot of time at an arena/community center. For example, for a skating competition or hockey tournament, families might spend an entire weekend at an arena. This past weekend there was a large volleyball tournament and skating competition at our new community center. There were tons of youth and young children running around. Players are not always with parents and younger siblings get bored of games and wander off.

Anyways, I don't know where to go with this issue. If I can't make my case with all of you then I guess I will leave it.

_________________
13 year old daughter -- lives with life-threatening allergies to milk, tree nuts and peanuts; seasonal allergies (birch, maple, ragweed); pet allergies; asthma; and eczema
10 year old son - no allergies


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 6:24 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:40 pm
Posts: 2034
Location: ottawa
Katec, :huggy I'm sorry if we've misunderstood you or you feel that we have. I really do get what you are saying. All the nut/peanut products sold leave sticky fingers touching everything and anything, still I don't think there is any way any extra accommodations could be made to keep our kids any safer. We spend many hours in the community center/arena as our daughter plays competitive hockey so I TOTALLY understand how difficult it is to 'hang around' the arena with our son and feel safe.
I see people every time we are at the arena/different centers take out food from their own snack bags and most are pb sandwiches or bags of nuts, and to be honest....before our son was born that is probably exactly what I would have packed. :|
No matter what our community centers/arenas/pools etc. could change I still would be equally as vigilant as regardless what they sell in the canteens people (by the hundreds as week) are bringing in Tim Hortons treats, as well as their own snacks from home .

If it was up to me as I said there would be no food outside of our homes and everyone would have to wash hands before touching ANYTHING. LOL Wish that could happen, it won't, but I'll keep dreaming. :huggy

_________________
DD 12 yrs -no allergies
4 yr old DS - asthma/eczema Anaphylactic to Peanuts, all tree nuts, sesame , all pea/lentil legumes, gelatin.
Allergic to trees, grass,ragweed, feathers, dander, mold and dust.
Outgrew eggs, fish, shellfish


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 11, 2005 9:38 pm
Posts: 924
Location: Oakville, Ontario
katec, :huggy to you from me as well. I do TOTALLY understand where you are coming from, and I wish things could be different for all of us dealing with food allergies. Unsafe food is truly everywhere - it seems, once we step out the door, there is no escaping it. Even the allergy aware places (schools) are not entirely safe, in my opinion. We don't know how well someone may have washed their hands (if at all) before coming to school - let's face it, some parents take there kids to Tim Hortons or McDonalds before school (I know of some parents that do this). I want you to feel that we are being supportive of your feelings, and I agree that it's VERY difficult to safely manage around all the food. You're right that we need our Allergic Living friends to help us through these challenging situations.

I feel BC2007 has just made some very good points - when I see a Tim Hortons bag, and out comes the bagel with sesame seeds, and my son is sitting right there, I silently cringe . When we are at our daughter's softball games, and there are sunflower seed shells (and peanut shells) all over the stands, and we're surrounded by people eating the seeds, and my son is right there, I silently cringe. I remind my son constantly that when we are out, he has to be very careful. It's not easy. The only place we've found where there is a request for no peanuts/tree nuts is at the school, and some places where there are very young children. Beyond this, it seems food, ANY food, is encountered wherever we go.

I think, as a group, we are all trying to determine what is reasonable to expect in terms of accomodations. I think we are all just expressing what we have experienced out there, and how we all cope with this. I don't want you to think that we don't understand, and that we're not supportive. We're all just trying to cope, the best we can. We all want our kids out in the world. As they get older, we MUST teach them to expect these foods out there, otherwise, they will go around with a false sense of security.

Some restaurants (eg. McDonald's) will package nuts separately. At a minimum, why don't you suggest this for the peanut butter and let them know that some well known, large chain restaurants are doing this. HOWEVER, even if the arena agrees to this, I still feel the risk for contaminated surfaces is very high. There is simply no limit to the foods being brought in, and the dirty hands (from all sorts of foods) and all the young children running around with sticky fingers touching all the surfaces.

Best of luck with whatever you decide.

_________________
15 yr old daughter: no health issues
12 yr old son: allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, fish, sesame, sunflower, mustard, poppy seeds, green peas, some fruits, instructed to avoid all other legumes (except soy & green beans), pollen, cats, horses


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 30, 2011 6:07 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:23 pm
Posts: 129
My turn!-sorry :huggy I guess where Im coming from, is that it doesnt matter (for us) if its sticky peanut butter, messy sunbutter, slopped and spilt fresh pineapple, crumbly biscuit crumbs left on a seat........if youre allergic to it, and those allergens have caused anaphylaxis in the past, then its all bad...but its out there...everywhere... in every situation where food is. For us..its about managing with these things as an every day part of every day life.

_________________
twin boys-
c-eosinophilic oesophagitis
j-avoids peanut, sunflower, pineapple all ana-sensitised to maccadaemia.pecan.Passed barley (previous ana) last year...out grew egg ana and peanut at 3 years..became re sensitised with ana at 6 years to peanut.


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