No imitators allowed

Drew Casford
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Island schools ban fake peanut butter

Students at schools across Prince Edward Island will no longer be allowed to bring peanut butter imitations to school.

Students at schools across Prince Edward Island will no longer be allowed to bring peanut butter imitations to school.

In a recent newsletter parents of Spring Park School were informed of a ban on a product called Wow Butter available in Island stores. The soy based product tastes and smells like peanut butter. The school said this has been causing confusion and worry to parents, teachers and students.

“If there are children with life threatening allergies, parents want to feel confident they will be safe at school,” said English Language School Board’s Bob Andrews.

“We want to create a very safe environment.”

Reanna Macdonald, a mother of two Spring Park students, said she feels good about the ban.

“Neither of my daughters have a peanut allergy, but if they did I would be happy to hear these other products were banned. It’s too confusing,” she said.

Not all parents agree.

Without peanut butter in schools alternatives are a great source of protein, said a concerned parent.

“These products were specifically designed to replace peanut butter. We should be educating teachers and students about the different products so we can keep them in our schools,” he said.

“The Wow Butter comes with labels for your child’s lunch to let students and teachers know what they are eating is safe.”

Andrews said even with labels on peanut alternatives it is too difficult for teachers to supervise.

“It’s really a matter of life threatening allergies over someone finding an alternative for lunch.”

Organizations: Spring Park School, English Language School Board

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Spring Park

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Recent comments

  • MOTHER
    October 09, 2012 - 10:44

    I have a son and 33 years ago , people didn't know the dangers of peanut butter and throught you over reacting . They were wrong we almost lost him to a cub outing the leader told the hungery boys to go make a peanut butter sandwich and when your seven you will do so because you should beale to trust the adult in charge . That goes for schools childen are children , you must protect them at all cost .

  • opinion
    October 08, 2012 - 20:26

    We live in contradictary times. For instance, a hospital that won't allow scents{wisely} yet sits alongside a sewage treatment plant which sometimes wafts through the air. Yet knowing this and its problems we build additions more on to the hospital on that site.

  • JoBlo
    October 08, 2012 - 14:40

    Schools and boards are required to comply with Sabrina’s law regarding anaphylactic allergy prevention, which specifically states that the school must implement: “Strategies that reduce the risk of exposure to anaphylactic causative agents in classrooms and common school areas.” Many schools have chosen to implement a peanut and nut free policy due to the high number of nut allergies and the high probability of anaphylaxis associated with those nut allergies. WOWBUTTER is a toasted soy spread and is NOT an anaphylactic causative agent for someone who has strictly a peanut and/or nut allergy.

  • JoBlo
    October 08, 2012 - 14:37

    Canadian Human Rights Code provides that everyone has the right to equal treatment. That means that if any parent wants or feels the need to send WOWBUTTER to school, which does not conflict with Sabrina’s law, as shown above, they have the legal right to do so. Your school and/or board do not have the legal right to prevent anyone from sending WOWBUTTER to school in association with peanut and nut allergies. In addition, schools do not have the right to confiscate a lunch containing WOWBUTTER or isolate a student to consume a lunch containing WOWBUTTER if the lunch is properly labelled and identified.

    • W.Wilkins
      October 08, 2012 - 19:55

      In reference to this situation, Sabrina’s law has squat to do with what can, or cannot be banned from a school. Schools can ban certain clothes (IE: T-Shirts with inappropriate slogans), cell phones, tobacco products and other things that are deemed a distraction or perceived threat to the fundamental mandate of a school, which is teaching and learning. With regard to this situation, the best example is the banning of toy guns, and there are many very realistic reproductions. Will a toy gun harm somebody? Of course not, but would you expect a high school teacher and fellow students to verify the harmlessness of each pseudo weapon? The fact is, artificial peanut butter products are made to appear like the product that can factually kill a child. To expect a teacher to spontaneously differentiate a benign from a harmful product that is designed to appear like a potentially lethal product is just not reasonable. Until the safe product is readily visible as a safe product (make it red or bright yellow) the banning of Wow Butter and similar products is more than reasonable - it is necessary.

  • W.Wilkins - facts matter.
    October 08, 2012 - 13:23

    We have politicians (and a few supporters) arguing that Islanders should borrow then spend millions of tax dollars on road when the existing road has never proved to have caused one death - or even an accident. However, the causal correlation between peanut butter and death of children has been proven unequivocally. Anaphylactic reactions can and do kill innocent children - it is fact, not political fiction. However, there are posts here that argue we should unnecessarily risk some child's life for snack? My friends, we live in a crazy, crazy world.

    • not smart
      October 09, 2012 - 06:44

      looks like a duck and smells like a duck but is NOT a duck !!!this stuff does not cause a danger to anyone !!! if it looks like a REAL GUN then the makers and /or users /or opponents should be smart enough to call for a change in color or some other distinguishing feature !!!! it is stupidity to ban a good source of food

  • ASHAMED TO BE AN ISLANDER FOR STUPIDITY LIKE THIS
    October 08, 2012 - 13:11

    Due to confusion and worry, kids aren't allowed to take a SAFE REPLACEMENT? This makes no sense to me. People are so uneducated about health on this Island. Yes, there are other options besides this, but it is safe. What is going to come next? There are so many things that parents send that say, "May contain traces of peanuts." Is the PEI schoolboard going to ban these? Although children should be eating healthier, and should not be getting so much processed, boxed, junk, there should be more thought and effort put into an eating healthy policy, what kids CAN bring to make them healthy, not what they CANT bring. I never read about how children on PEI are being taught about healthy choices like vegetables and fruits....why isn't this regulation in schools across the Island? If children are being made not to bring things, why can't it be regulation TO make them bring healthy food like fresh vegetables are fruits? It is a proven fact that the more whole, one ingredient foods one puts into ones body, the healthier, more disease free one will be. People just dont understand. Its sad.

  • What if it was your child who was deathly allergic to the smell
    October 08, 2012 - 10:11

    Just the smell of peanuts can cause an anaphylactic reaction. If my child had that type of allergy, I wouldn't want the teachers to have to take the time to determine whether it was the real thing they were smelling before taking action. I can't believe how selfish you people are being. My son loves peanut butter but I don't care. Just think for one second about how hard it would be sending your kid to school everyday knowing that just smelling something could kill them and having to trust all the other parents in the school to follow the rules?

    • don
      October 08, 2012 - 14:51

      What if it was your child who was deathly allergic to the smell. well i do not like people that drinks booze so if i met you then u MUST NOT have booze in your home.

    • don
      October 08, 2012 - 14:59

      well i think all schools should stop the fallowing items in side the schools and school board office. and inside all homes. and should not allow theses items to be sold on PEI.I fel sorry for anyone with allergies but i think theses so called school board EXPERTS."DUMB" I THINK THEY SHOULD CHECK WITH PEOPLE THAT KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT. check out this link. http://www.canadianliving.com/health/prevention/canadas_9_most_common_food_allergies.php

    • Andrew MacDonald
      October 09, 2012 - 08:30

      You can't have an anaphylactic reaction to the smell of peanuts. You must ingest the protein.

    • Sarah Wilson
      October 10, 2012 - 16:36

      You cannot have an anaphylactic reaction to the smell of peanuts. A reaction is caused by the protein in peanuts acting like an invader to the immune system. Do some reading before you speak on topics you know nothing about.

  • Barb
    October 08, 2012 - 09:33

    It's funny that the children who can not have PEANUTS, and would like to why they can not have this products. And what about children allergic to MILK product, let's band school from selling it.

    • Research, think, then opinions.
      October 08, 2012 - 16:52

      Please become educated on anaphylaxis (http://www.anaphylaxis.ca/) - then base you opinions on facts. Milk can cause discomfort - peanuts can kill, very quickly. This is a good story to draw out the facts - I only hope people go the extra step and find out the facts. I doubt very much if people know the facts, that they wouldn't support the schools on this one.

  • Scott
    October 08, 2012 - 09:27

    Parents need to stand up for their rights! Schools and boards are required to comply with Sabrina’s law regarding anaphylactic allergy prevention, which specifically states that the school must implement: “Strategies that reduce the risk of exposure to anaphylactic causative agents in classrooms and common school areas.” Many schools have chosen to implement a peanut and nut free policy due to the high number of nut allergies and the high probability of anaphylaxis associated with those nut allergies. WOWBUTTER is a toasted soy spread and is NOT an anaphylactic causative agent for someone who has strictly a peanut and/or nut allergy. Canadian Human Rights provides that everyone has the right to equal treatment. That means that if any parent wants or feels the need to send WOWBUTTER to school, which does not conflict with Sabrina’s law, as shown above, they have the legal right to do so. Your school and/or board do not have the legal right to prevent anyone from sending WOWBUTTER to school in association with peanut and nut allergies. In addition, schools do not have the right to confiscate a lunch containing WOWBUTTER or isolate a student to consume a lunch containing WOWBUTTER if the lunch is properly labelled and identified. Award Winning bright yellow "Made with WOWBUTTER" school lunch identification stickers are now included with every jar. Every school and school board must address the needs of BOTH allergic and non-allergic students. Failure to respect the rights of the parents of non-allergic children to send a nutritious lunch to school including a labelled and identified “Made with WOWBUTTER” product, can result in legal action by those affected by the school or board actions as it relates to human rights. It is your right to be able to send WOWBUTTER to school to provide nutrition for your child and it is in the best interests of the school and board to accommodate your needs, they need to understand that! WOWBUTTER is being successfully used in many schools across Canada. Other parents have stood up to their school for what's right and you should too!

  • mary
    October 08, 2012 - 09:01

    As a grandparent of a grandchild that is highly allergic to peanuts , it sickens me that IF this was Your little grandchild that easily could DIE ; you would take all the danger away as humanly possible. Try to open your hearts too this dangerous situation.

  • Wrong
    October 08, 2012 - 08:55

    How about this, stay out of MY kids lunch bag! Unless you want me rooting around in YOUR purse or rifling through YOUR backpack to check your lunch items then keep your hands out of MY kids lunch bag. This kind of stupidity really pi$$es me off.

  • david from away
    October 08, 2012 - 08:41

    introduce your kids to the joy of real peanut butter on toast, for breakfast, dogs love it too! fill your brood up with all of the school forbidden foods at home.

  • Bill Kays
    Bill Kays
    October 08, 2012 - 07:42

    The bigger issue here is whether we should let the school decide on what my kids can or cannot eat. Stop butting into parent's responsibility. Shelley, you are right, the kids do not get exposed to the real world anymore. Let them get outside and play in the dirt. Dirt is healthy. Hey Richard, your statement "This company has probably spent millions of dollars to research and produce a safe and responsible alternative" could not be farther from the truth. You have a false sense of security if you think that either the corporations producing this and other poisons or your government will protect you from whatever evils reside in these products. The allergy issue is small compared to all the issue of genetically modified foods and food stuffs which we are being tricked into consuming in almost everything we eat.

  • Disbelief
    October 08, 2012 - 07:01

    This is ridiculous. My brother who is now 24 is anaphylactic to peanuts. He had his allergy long before any of of these bans were in place!! He was educated by my parents about his allergy. He carried his epipen everywhere. He wore a medic alert bracelet. The children is his class were also educated about the allergy. At no point were peanuts ever banned in his school. In fact we still kept peanut butter in out house. He NEVER had one anaphylactic reaction after the first one that caused his diagnoses. Parents today want to shelter their children to an unrealistic level. What is going to happen when they go to college or university. Peanuts won't be banned there. Or how about parties or sleepovers in other people's houses? Unrealistic expectations for society to protect your child all the time. The child needs to learn to be responsible for their allergy and heir own health!

  • Justine Thyme
    October 07, 2012 - 23:57

    What is next? Parents and kids know that there are rules in place, no one is intentionally going to endanger someone, the product has been cleared for sale in schools. What are teachers doing in kids lunches anyway? The school board wants to start banning products, then the school board best start offering up cost alternative lunches.

  • Millie Vanelli
    October 07, 2012 - 22:33

    Why not a special school for kids with allergies... Really now they had peanut butter in my school growing up and nobody died.

    • Peanut Allergy
      October 08, 2012 - 09:04

      Prince Edward Island promotes an inclusive educational system so that ALL students can safely go to school with their peers. The belief is that ALL students deserve the same chances for education; forcing students with food allergies into a separate school would be in direct violation of this belief. Furthermore, yes schools did once allow peanut butter; however, peanut allergies were not common. Now, peanuts are one of the most common allergens. And while maybe no students died, there were students who ended up in the emergency room with severe allergy symptoms (myself included). I applaud the district's efforts to keep children safe and free from anxiety.

  • she mackin
    October 07, 2012 - 21:30

    why don't the makers of the product make it a different colour, like red or blue, so there is no lookalike.

    • Kidding Me
      October 08, 2012 - 07:34

      Now there's an idea!

    • She Mackin is right
      October 08, 2012 - 10:42

      "She Mackin's" point is the best post; you've suggested a realistic solution to the problem that challenges educators. As a retired teacher who has twice has seen children almost die from allergic reactions - the safety of children always comes first. That said, we clearly failed to teach MILLIE VANELLI and JUSTINE THYME very much. Sorry about that.

  • Tracey
    October 07, 2012 - 20:58

    This is ridiculous. If the sandwich comes with a note written by parents, this product shoudl be acceptable. That is what I do with my kids and there has never been an issue...

  • Wally
    October 07, 2012 - 20:41

    CREAM CHEESE: As a milk product, cream cheese belongs to one of the eight food groups that cause nine of every 10 food allergies, according to the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network website. Approximately one in 40 children younger than 3 have allergies to milk products, As well everyone knows about Strawberry alergies, Butter Allergies. Ban everything. Oh dont forget Margarene. Stop the foolishness and feed those in danger of allergic reactions in a different area.

  • Really?
    October 07, 2012 - 18:56

    Why are children without allergies being forced to eat like they do have allergies? If your child could die from exposure to peanuts they really should be eating in a separate room.

  • Kidding me
    October 07, 2012 - 18:08

    Foolish....absolutely foolish! A very safe product banned because the school board doesnt have the trust that parents would be competent enough to know what's safe and something life threatening. Options for for sending easy healthy lunches are getting fewer.

  • Islander
    October 07, 2012 - 17:38

    For everybody who says they should allow it......if there were two sandwhiches sitting on a table where one had real peanut butter and the other had the imitation peanut butter, would you be able to tell the difference just by looking at it. My guess would be "no". Now ask the teachers to make that same determination when they are trying to prevent a child from getting sick because of peanut butter. How are they to tell what is safe peanut butter and what isn't if they both look the same.

    • stickers
      October 15, 2012 - 21:46

      That is why stickers identifying Wowbutter as a peanut free product come with every Jar. You need to buy the Jar to get the stickers. Wowbutter also offers pre-written letters for parents to sign and send tro school. Wowbutter is also trying hard to work with schools offering Free samples and information about the product.

  • Stacey
    October 07, 2012 - 15:38

    Schools should be providing lunch for all students .With the help of parents of course and then we know the kids are eating and know what they are eating!!!!

  • Deedee
    October 07, 2012 - 14:06

    Parkside school in Summerside "banned" these imitation products, last year, stating that it causes aInxiety for the children with the allergies. I agree that it may cause anxiety for the children, believing that their life is in danger but with that being stated there are alternatives. One of my children is unable to bring bananas to school or any product containing bananas because a child in his class is allergic. The child's parents send a letter , every year, asking that we refrain from sending these products in lunches. I think that this should be considered, instead of a complete ban. Parents of the child(ren) should send a letter asking that parents not send imitation products because anxiety related to an allergy. I think that it would be considerate to other families, who may need to buget their grocery bill to accomodate the extra cost to find alternative foods.

  • Honestly
    October 07, 2012 - 13:42

    It's one thing to ban peanuts in schools, but to ban a completely safe alternative due to "confusion" is ludicrous. Where is the confusion? You were told it is peanut-free and your kid didn't die, so there is nothing to be confused about. This is just paranoid parents trying to cram their ideas down other people's throats. Guess what folks? When your kids grow up they won't be able to tell their co-workers, friends, people at restaurants, or ANYONE how to eat. If you don't teach your kids how to take care of themselves, they are going to die in the real world where variables like other peoples' food cannot be controlled. They're better off not pushing their allergies into other peoples' lives. If my diabetic friend told me to stop eating sugar around him, or my vegetarian friends wanted me to stop eating meat, they wouldn't be my friends for very long. That's just how things work. If you teach your kids that everyone has to look out for them because of their allergy, they will never learn to look out for themselves.

  • don
    October 07, 2012 - 13:37

    i hope this comment will get thru the bias web page guy. cream cheese what about the people that has allergies to dairy. i still think the best thing is ban all foods in schools.and to think The school "i did not think the school could talk is it not a building?" said this has been causing confusion and worry to parents, teachers and students.and they are to have brains ? God help us. as this board will not. again parents DO NOT send your kids to school with food.

  • Crazy
    October 07, 2012 - 13:36

    This is completely crazy! If schools want to enforce all of these food restrictions, perhaps they should have a school cafeteria. Otherwise mind your own business and keep your nose out of my kid's lunch box.

  • crazy
    October 07, 2012 - 12:38

    Banning nuts ok, banning safe products too far. WowButter is a safe product. One class had a ban on all egg products which includes mayo, all fish products , and of course all nuts. Maybe it is time to make it safer for the children with allergies by having them eat on a safer room.

    • intobed
      October 07, 2012 - 14:34

      How about combining the French and English schools, and creating a separate school system for kids who are in danger from going to regular schools? Severe physical or mental disabilities, bullied or suicidal, severe allergies, and the list goes on.

  • Ulfric
    October 07, 2012 - 12:30

    How about they option the schools to purchase the imitation PB to make it safely available from the school. Then they know for sure what the product is between the slices of bread, saving the confusion. Parents who want their kids to eat it for the protein during the day can pay a small fee to cover the costs. Problem solved. If the school staff would go for it that is.

  • don
    October 07, 2012 - 12:19

    i can see the point but it is getting to where kids can not bring anything to eat. so i think the board should supply all meals for our kids. i bet if you brough a lober they would bitch about that to.

    • Bill Kays
      Bill Kays
      October 09, 2012 - 08:02

      Wrong Don, you do not want the state, the government to be supplying the food your kids eat because they always get it wrong. Parents MUST take the responsibility to see that their children are eating properly. Government has too much power and you want to give them more (especially over what my children eat). It is the same government that allows us to eat genetically modified foods. And we all know that whenever government makes a mistake it takes them forever to admit it (if at all) and then it takes forever render a systemic change.

  • Shelly
    October 07, 2012 - 12:17

    Our children are living in a plastic bubble! Not much wonder they are all screwed up!

  • Richard
    October 07, 2012 - 12:17

    The label should read, "SAFE-FOR-SCHOOL-BUT-NOT-SAFE-FOR-SCHOOL-BOARD-ADMINISTRATORS-OR-PARENTS." This company has probably spent millions of dollars to research and produce a safe and responsible alternative. What a waste, simply because people will not learn about new things.

  • KTD
    October 07, 2012 - 11:55

    These have been discouraged for a while. It is impossible for the teachers to go through every single kid's lunch to read labels. If something looks and smells like peanut butter, the teacher is going to err on the side of caution and send it back home. A great alternative is cream cheese. Calcium, protein, and there are many lower fat varieties if that's a concern. Cream cheese and jam sandwiches are a favourite in my house, and it doesn't take much cream cheese to make a yummy sandwich, only a tablespoon or so. And fortunately, cream cheese isn't going to be mistaken for peanut butter.