EDUCATION

Frederick County schools react to peanut allergy scare

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The beginning of the school year kicks off with a peanut scare for a local school district.

Photo: viZZZual.com/Flickr

Schools in Frederick County are closely keeping an eye on cafeteria food after workers served up nacho chips containing peanut oil.

Frederick County schools are supposed to have procedures in place to keep kids out of harm's way when it comes to foods which could cause an allergic reaction. But it wasn't until after most kids had finished lunch that workers realized there might be a serious problem.

64 kitchens in the school system were wrapping up lunch when a food service worker realized the nacho chips contained peanut oil.

They immediately contacted the school health department, called parents of children with peanut allergies and sent out an email detailing symptoms of allergic reactions.

Reactions were not reported in any of the more than 400 students in the district with peanut allergies...because according to allergists there was never any danger.

Dr. Jacqueline Eghrari says gourmet, cold-pressed peanut oil (which is way too expensive for the school lunch or fast-food restaurant budget) is not necessarily safe for people with peanut allergies.

But regular refined peanut oil is fine and she recommends people read more about it on the Food Allergy Network website.

She says it's likely most parents of peanut-allergic kids weren't alarmed because they knew this information.

She's surprised the school didn't - but is glad it's being pro-active.

"I think we should give them some appropriate appreciation for being vigilant about it - but in this particular case, they happen to be wrong," Eghrari said.

Dr. Eghrari says it's a good lesson to schools to be vigilant about actual peanuts as well as other allergens in the foods they serve.

Marita Loose, a Frederick County Schools spokesperson couldn't agree more and says they're putting new rules in place to double-check ingredient lists before foods are served...and while this was a false alarm, is still glad they reacted.

"We will always err on the side of caution and the word peanut is a trigger for us," Loose says.

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