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Hamilton mom wants school to ban dairy products

CityNews | posted Wednesday, Jan 15th, 2014

A Hamilton mother has pulled her 6-year-old daughter out of school and filed a human rights complaint because she says the school hasn’t accommodated her child’s life-threatening allergy to dairy products.

She wants the school to ban dairy so her daughter can enjoy her experience at school without the threat of severe allergic reactions.

The story has opened up a storm of controversy and CityNews reporter Tammie Sutherland has a full report in the below video.


  • Steph says:

    Scientific proof that the smell of food does not cause a fatal attack:


  • Steph says:

    I am very upset by these bullies in the workplace.
    OK, they have food allergies. Granted, they carry an epipen.
    So they cannot eat fish. That is unfortunate and I really feel for them.
    But then, they infringe on my right to eat fish. They harass everybody at work and forbid all the co-workers to bring fish in their lunches.
    How stupid, inconsiderate, insensitive. That is how bullies operate.
    And, I am talking about adults, here. Not allergic kids!
    Their pretense is that the mere smell of fish in someone else’s lunch is going to trigger a fatal attack.
    What a whopper!
    The general public also the right to enjoy healthy foods, and to not be bullied by a minority.

  • Catherine says:

    I think it sounds like this particular school could be doing a much better job of managing this child’s allergies to dairy and egg. That said, I think that the family’s demands are unreasonable and unnecessary. My daughter is anaphylactic to peanut, tree nut and egg. We have happily worked with the school to set up a system that keeps my daughter safe. My daughter is responsible for washing her hands before eating and the students wipe their desks after lunch.

  • Tracy says:

    The parent should not remove the child from school as she is not helping the child to learn and make friends also think how the child is feeling that her mom had to take her away from friends and learning place. As this child has so much already to deal with and for the mom to do this is wrong I understand her concern as I have a child with egg allergy, peanut and treenut allergy. would meet befor school starts and discuss my concern with the teacher and ask her to make sure all the students clean their hands in the morning, lunch and after the snack and I would pack my child snack and let them know what he can have at the school snack program it works great and they always ask my permission if they are not sure to what my child can have before giving it, also at snack time my child has a special table they sit at, and I bring my child home at lunch to be more safe as the lunch ladies are not that alert with the students so I make it little easy on them and I can watch and make sure they eat. So this parent is not attending to the situation she need to inform the teacher and take the child home or arrange for her to sit away from the allergy area also the school should make a list of food that is not allow and I don’t think a child is missing too much vitamins by not bring a food item that causing allergy to a child children are more concern over their classmates health than the parents making such a big fuss give the children allergy free lunches, just think if that was your child. also they are a lot of bake goods that are dairy and egg free now and taste great so kids won’t miss it as dairy is not that good for you and eggs is really not that healthy if you think of as they are injected with all kinds of drugs fresh fruits and vegetable is the healthy way to go and wraps great for kids lunches. So parents please be safe when you are packing your child lunch as what might be safe for your child could do harm to another child. Also the schools need to enforce the rule that students clean their hands after lunch and in the morning as to install sanitizers around the schools and make it a priority to educate students and teachers early in the school year about allergies and what is welcome in the school and what is not welcome as allergies is growing concern to parents now and the schools are not aware of the dangers but TDSB need to set up rules and list posted in the front the school entrance to clean all hands befor entering into any classroom and cleaning of the tables after lunch this will allow allergy kids to attend schools normal and live a normal life and have parents feel better. |\So TDSB step up in your training and put your cleaners to work and clean the lunch tables after each lunch and place sanitizers outside each classroom.

  • Jess says:

    As an educator, I have had students in my class with severe allergies to citrus, peas, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame seeds, eggs and pineapple. I think everyone wants to find a solution to help students with severe allergies be comfortable and happy in their own classroom, but there are so many allergies out there, that it can, at times, be nearly impossible. If you have ever looked at the labels of the most basic lunch foods (bread, granola bars, snack packs, pudding cups), you will see that most of them have one of the above allergens.

    I like the idea of having an allergen area, but the problem is that many students eat in their own classroom, and some students are so sensitive that just the smell can trigger a reaction, not to mention residue that we cannot see, but lingers on hands, mouths and desks. Unfortunately, I think this is one of those issues where someone will be upset– whether it’s parents who have to find new foods for picky eaters or the parents of students with food allergies who are eventually segregated to eat.

  • Jennifer says:

    We need to have Holy Name of Jesus Catholic School create a lunchroom for those with allergies and perhaps separate tables within the lunchroom for specific allergies. Sounds more complex than it really is. My son is almost 6 years old and is anaphylactic to both peanuts and tree nuts, but thankfully my sons school is completely NUT FREE. We do however respect other peoples allergies and each teacher advises it’s classmates parents what allergies exist in that classroom. My son sits at an allergy table, not in a separate room, but at a table for those with allergies. It’s a great idea,he feels that he can relate to others. Unfortunately there are too many to relate to….
    This really needs to change, we need to understand that a life threatening allergy is not a joke and needs to be taken seriously. My only question is why has this child experienced 9 attacks, and does she wear her epi pen on her waist?

    a worried mom

  • Emily says:

    After hearing on the news this girl who’s mom took her out of school because of her severe egg and dairy allergy.. kind of makes me mad.. I have a VERY severe egg and nut allergy ( along with more food allergies ) and my mom didn’t take me out of school. My mom did everything she could but never took me out of school.. She spent hours and hours teaching my friends and I how to properly use my eli-pen, taught me how to read labels and ingredients, and I also had to live with my epi-pen attached to me! I don’t understand how this little girl is going to learn how to live with her allergy if she’s segregated from everything. I also find it a lot easier now because egg and nut allergies are more known, so theres always proper labelling and most restaurants have an allergy list for all the meals. Taking this girl out of school is not doing anything.. other than easing the moms nerves (for now) what happens when she grows up and goes to uni or college.. or even being in a work place.. I honestly find school a safer place because of the constant supervision! I do understand that having a dairy allergy is different but there are ways to teach the other children to be aware and wash their hands after they eat. Thats what happened when I was in elementary school, all my teachers and peer students were very understanding.I totally disagree with trying to get egg and dairy products out of the schools.. thats absolutely ridiculous, egg and dairy products will be everywhere you have to teach your daughter to be able to protect herself and to know whats good for her and whats not good for her.

  • Deb says:

    As the parent of a child with a life threatening food allergy to tree nuts, I can really sympathize with this family. It is definitely difficult. And the suggestions by the hosts of BT of having a separate room for the “allergy kids” will not work. Its the cross contamination that is most dangerous. So you put the allergy kids in a separate room for lunch and snack, great, but what about the rest of the school during class time, after the rest of the kids have exposed and contaminated the classrooms with these allergens? Do you think that the teachers have time to make sure that the rest of the kids have washed their hands, face and desk after eating theses allergens…..of course not. Having a school that is “nut free” doesn’t guarantee that the school is “safe”, in fact I believe that it gives a child a FALSE sense of security. Trying to prevent the allergens from entering the building really helps to keep these children relatively safe.
    Unless you have a child with a life threatening food allergy, most people don’t understand the feeling of knowing that “the food that gives your child life…will take my child’s life away”. My heart goes out to this family.

  • Darriel says:

    As someone with a severe citrus allergy and a teacher in the public school system I am well educated and I educate those around me. My students know that they are able to eat citrus, but they MUST wash their hands afterwards. Also my school ensured that the desks were washed in my classroom. I have to be very careful, but I know what I can and cant eat. I taught my students why it is important, and that sometimes people have serious allergies and we need to remember to never share food.
    I think education is key. How is this person going to go into the real word, if they have lived a sheltered life. Milk and eggs are everywhere and we can’t ban them everywhere. Educate Educate and more educate- not just her, but her friends at school. We can not cater to everyone’s different situation because then there will not be anything left to eat! Again Educate!

  • Lynne says:

    This is most definitely a serious problem for the family; however, nothing in the report mentions if there are other children in the school who have other severe food allergies where a room could be designated as “food allergy free” as Dina suggested. It will be interesting to see how the rights of one person, whether a child or adult, has the right to infringe on the rights of others, especially with respect to nutrition? According to the Canadian Healthy Dietary plan, Dairy is part of it and is considered a necessity for healthy teeth, bones and the cardiovascular system. It would mean no butter on sandwiches, no cheese, no milk to drink, etc… This would put additional pressure on what today’s stressed out parents are to give their children for school lunches. Has anyone considered what is going to happen to this child when she grows up and has to enter the work force? How will we, as a society, handle that problem? So this is a really tough situation to address both on a realistic basis as well as on a compassionate one.

  • Sandra says:

    My son is deathly allergic to peanuts/tree nuts/sesame/soy(which is in EVERYTHING!) and he has autism and is not developmentally able to self-advocate for his safety. Although I agree with your producer that allergic kids need to learn how to keep themselves safe, when there are other circumstances in the mix that becomes difficult. I believe that the entire school community needs to be EDUCATED on food allergies and their severity because a lot of people (school officials included) don’t understand how very serious it can be. (I’ve had friends’ children hooked up to ventilators and in coma because of food allergies) 🙁

  • Marlena says:

    First of all if we are not willing to accommodate the special requests of individual religious groups in schools, how can a parent or parents expect schools to be able to accommodate each special request of the children with food.
    There are many solutions for this parent and this is not a human rights issue. Simply the rest of the children in the school could in the same respect file a counter human rights claim for their own children to be able to have the lunches they want. Schools & parents have been very accommodating with peanuts and not having them in the school.
    There is a method called BIE (Bioenergetic intolerance desenitization) essentially using laser on specific acupuncture points to reduce and often remove the allergic reaction. This parent should bring their child to a holistic allergist, INHT is located in Oakville (the training school). It is not overly costly and it will help her child to be able to be in school and enjoy school and life. I have experienced BIE for my own allergies and now am able to actually consume foods that I previously couldn’t tolerate as well as be around pets. It also helps significantly with anaphalactic allergies (dairy, eggs, bee stings and peanuts).
    Before a person decides to take major action they should really seek out every option and alternative. Especially regarding the restoration of their child’s health. If I am wrong and this parent has already tried this, and restoring the child’s immune system, then if she has done everything she can perhaps her only option is to home school her child or find a way to have her child home for lunch instead of at school.

  • Cheryl says:

    Great start to a solution based conversation Dina and Kevin. The bottom line , in my opinion , is that we need to work together to find a solution. Are these children are victims of our environmental indiscretions. They pay the price physically, mentally and socially not only at school but in their everyday lives outside of school. How many birthday parties do you think the children get to enjoy??? I don’t have children but I have nephews and nieces………teach the children empathy compassion and a love for mankind. Consider how the reaction of the adults today will influence the behaviour and decision making of the children in the future. Being a kid can be rough, being a human in this world can be rough, lets try to make it better, not turn our backs or make it worse. God Bless

  • eunicemcgouran says:

    As a child I had so many allergies that I had to take two shots a week. We need to educate,educate.educate. Not only was I completely educated on what I had to stay away from, my friends and teachers knew this too. There is nutritional value in these foods that I would not allowed to have but there are children out there that should be including them in their lunches as that may be their nutritional meal they get.

  • Jennifer says:

    I agree with Karen..Educate, educate…What happens when this young lady grows up..is the rest of the world going to stop on her behalf. .what about when she is one the bus, walking friends house, etc. the issue will still be there, But if she knows how to deal with it, than she will be safe as well as everyone else is still getting there vitamins.. The schools are already demanding to not bring in things that contain peanut butter, and not to bring in sweets because of the kids that have sugar diabetes.My child was one of the kids that got removed from the class for having a peanut butter sandwich before I knew what was going on..how do you think she and I felt..not knowing what was going on…Is there any foods aloud any more?

  • Terry says:

    My wife and I are both Registered Nurses and we feel the real problem is that we have decided to take over natural development. When we were kids there were only a few allergies, and generally it was environmental. It has been since we started immunizing the next generation that allergies became rampant. We are not allowing the body to learn how to develop it’s own immunity. The other concern is that we are putting all our kids in a bubble, when they get to high school or start a job these restrictions will not be there. Maybe we need to go back to how we were raised, NATURALLY.

  • Eunice McGouran says:

    After spending my entire childhood having allergies requiring me to have two separate shots weekly I know how this family feels..The best solution is to educate, educate, educate!!!. I once took a asked for a taste of chocolate and my friend kindly said sorry, it will make you sick. As my parents were told by my doctor many of these foods I was allergic too have high nutritional value and were greatly needed by each and every one of us. I knew what food I could eat and fortunately I never had to be sent to the emergency again because we were all very educated!

  • Rose says:

    Hi there, I am a mother of an anaphalaxis child who is now 20 years old. By the time she was 6 she had had many anaphalaxis episodes resulting in epipen injection and one lung calapse when she was 5 which happened in her elementary school. I was very involved with school council, this was pre Sabrina’s Law. I have had many arguments with other parents and administration of the school trying to get them to understand the severity of this allergy. No one will ever understand unless you have a child who could die in an instant. My solution was to remove my daughter from the class room and have her eat lunch and snack in a safe room with 2 friends. Your best defence is your child and educating her/him about there allergy. My daughter is now heavily involved with Anaphalaxis Canada mentoring other mothers and children on how to handle this severe problem. Now as an adult my daughter is extremely careful when she is out but unfortunately when you are that severe we need to expect that something will happen eventually and be prepared when it does. I think this mom need to perhaps talk to someone like my daughter and be open to different suggestions. Thank you Rose

  • Merry Lynn says:

    When my daughter was young, she had a classmate with a severe peanut allergy. She could not be within 12 ft of peanuts/peanut butter etc. , so she ate her lunch outside the school office. (the children normally ate in the classroom). She was allowed to have one friend to eat with her. The children started asking their parents to send them with peanut free lunches so that they could be the one to be chosen to eat with this child.

  • Rob Dewhurst says:

    20 years ago, I had not heard of peanut allergies. We live in an age now where hygiene is taken to the extreme. This means our bodies are unable to build resistance to any allergies or germs and we rely antibiotics which worsens the situation.
    Assassins and dignitaries in classical History, I.E. pre B.C. used to take minute amounts of poison to build up resilience in case someone would attempt to poison there food or drink.
    Maybe there are drugs to do the same like the flu shot, which gives you the flu virus to help you build anti bodies.

  • Jennifer says:

    You are right, they have tried this. They feed a small amount of the known allergy inducing substance to an allergic person to try to build up their resistance and immunity to the food.
    The reason this is no widely practiced? It has killed too many people.

  • Laura Beaudoin says:

    While an immediate solution needs to be found, we really should be questioning why all these food allergies are becoming an issue. Is there something being added to food causing this? Pesticides? Fertilizer? This wasn’t an issue 20 years ago so what is different now?

  • Anna says:

    Hello, i would like to say that i do understand about the severe allergy and scarey it must be for the mother and daughter. My daughter cannot have wheat and gluten since the age of 4 (she’s 13 now). I educated her about not sharing her food with others and others cannot touch hers. Cross-contamination of food will make her sick. She has always been very careful about what she can have and not have especially during the difficult times when they celebrate birthdays, or at Christmas, Halloween and Valentines Day. She just knew she cannot eat it. I never asked to have it a gluten free or wheat free room and it isn’t fair for everyone else. If anything segregating the kids and putting them in an allergy free room would probably be the best answer. Lets face it when they get to high school it’s a free game so it’s best to adapt earlier. Thank you

  • Caroline Flood says:

    Hi, Firstly, you can’t bring fake products to shool, (ie:peanut butter), cause it encourages some people to send the real stuff and lie about it, because they just don’t get the risk that they are putting to another child!! Secondly there must be more than one child or person in the school with some kind of allergy that you could create an eating space for them, so instead of segregating it is more of a special place…or you find lunch buddies, so this little girl has another classmate eat with her on special diet days. The other parents agree to let there child……….walk a mile in her shoes. Do we not teach at school…make it a learning lunch.

  • Nicole Ryan says:

    My family and I talked about this just yesterday. As Deena was saying 20 years ago we did not have this problem. So what is the reason for all these allergies?
    And this is my personal opinion. I think it’s that we don’t expose infants to these foods early enough. What I mean is 20 yrs ago we used to feed our babies “real” food at a very early age. Now parents are told not to feed babies certain foods till they are older. So in my opinion the child does not build an immunity to these allergens. So by the time they are exposed to them they are allergic.

  • Laura Beaudoin says:

    While there needs to be an immediate solution to accommodate food allergies in schools, I agree with Dina that we need to start looking at the root of the problem. Why are all these food allergies affecting children? Is there something being added to the food that is causing this? Fertilizer? Pesticides? This was never an issue 20 years ago so what is different now?

  • Tracey says:

    As a parent and a clean eating enthusiast, I understand the concern of those parents whose children have food allergies.
    This issue continues to grow to overwhelming populations of the younger generation having severe food allergies. The question that needs to be asked, researched and analyzed identifying why North America is seeing the increase to these food allergies today?
    When you interact or travel to other countries such as Germany and Europe, they do not have the severity to peanut or egg allergies. What is different in Canada in comparison to these other Countries, my guess is the amount of processed foods that we put into our bodies as opposed to whole foods.
    Research would help the younger generations to understand how or what to do to avoid the possibilities to growing food allergies with knowledge around the contributing factors. The children today are parents of the future, we can turn things around with the proper education and changes within our own lives.

  • Gail says:

    I think the schools need to bring in a medical person and take each individual class and explain what allergies are and how they would affect their classmate that has an allergy. Then a letter should go home with each student explaining to parents what is not wanted at school. If the problem still occurs then parents should be brought into school and talked to about the situation. It is not the students fault that a parent takes the stand they do sometimes.

  • jacqueline hughes says:

    hey what about kids allergic to animals..kids have animal hairs or fur on their clothes…

  • Giulia says:

    You can’t die from animal hair. You can die from an anaphylactic attack

  • e parker says:

    Perhaps the little girl could bring her lunch in her own napkin and stay away
    from the other kids with eggs or whatever she is allergic to. The little girl has to be taught to watch what her comes in contact with NOT OTHER KIDS WATCHING FOR HER.

  • Lindsey says:

    Good morning
    I believe Kevin is right there is no black and white answer. Community’s have to come together and discuss the problem from both sides of the situation, for children with the allergy they can not be band from it they have to learn to adapt to it and figure out the how to deal with it because these children are going to have to grow up and live in the real world when the go out into the work force. Also people with out the allergy have to be aware and sensitive to the fact that kids or adults have different needs. Everyone just needs to help one another and the world would be a better place,

  • Barbara Good says:

    We as parents understand all the problems that come with children. I was sitting here last night trying to think of how this problem would be solved. My son and I was talking about it. I thought a class just for these children. My son came up with, get a small building and turn it into a school for those children. That way they will not be left out. I thought about it and I feel he is right.

  • adt says:

    I went through nursing school with an adult allergic to peanuts. she went on a trip overseas..well aware of her allergies an what needed to be done…asked all the right questions and was given a dish that had nuts. she died. how do you expect children to handle that. my son was (he outgrew it in puberty) and even the smell of it would affect him. If it is an anaphylactic (life threatening) allergy then it shouldn’t be allowed in the school. There isn’t any partial solution that would keep the child safe. Inconvenient? Yes absolutely but if your child causes another child to be sent to hospital and possibly die…that would affect your child FOREVER.

  • Penny Curtis says:

    I think the parents in the school should have an chance to voice their concerns with this, and they need to keep in mind this could be their child and how would they want to have this issued resolved..
    At times like this yu need to take a step back and how they would want to be treated.

  • karen says:

    My children had food allergies also. Educating the children and have a working relationship with the teachers is the best solution. Not banning foods. Children will still sneak foods at an early age and one cannot stop this. I had to change schools for my kindergarden age child as the teacher and principal thought allergies ridiculous, but the children thrived at a new school under caring teachers. This was back in the 70’s.

  • Renee Gauthier says:

    If my child was so allergic to something, I wouldn’t risk their lives in order to have them eat at the school. I would bring them home for lunch. How could you trust others with something so important? Really, if it’s a matter of life and death you need to take responsibility for your child, you can’t leave it to other people. I would not allow my child to eat at school if the allergy was that severe. I also wouldn’t risk my life by eating at restaurants.

  • toni2lips says:

    As a single parent, I was on a tight budget, so eggs and milk were staples in my home. My daughter loved egg sandwiches for her lunches and I would give her what she wanted so I knew that she would eat her lunch and not throw it away.

  • David Joe says:

    Why not allergy free schools?

  • Julie says:

    When I was in school, the class rotated having “allergen free” lunches, and those kids sat at the table with the child with the allergy to eat lunch and snack.

    It may also be beneficial to education the entire class about allergies so they all understand, not just the child with the allergy.

  • Louise says:

    I don’t agree with the mother. It is unfortunate that the child has a severe allergy, but why should any other children be restricted in eating what they enjoy. It is hard enough to encourage children to eat right that now we will be restricting them what they eat even more. She should teach her child not to touch other student food. Why should any adult be restricted. Everything and anything has dairy product in it. I love an egg salad now and then, as well as a nice cold glass of milk. If the child does not touch or use she will be fine.

  • Selin Sheppard says:

    Actually Louise- you are completely wrong. Unfortunately most people with severe allergies (life threatening ones) can have a reaction to just being near the food they are allergic towards. The smell of peanuts etc…so them not touching or using it as you said-isn’t the solution. Let’s just say your child had peanut butter for breakfast-didn’t wash his/her hands and touched a kid w/a severe peanut allergy- that child can have a reaction and if not responded to immediately can potentially die! So as you can see your solution is not a solution at all- and I’m sure that if your child where the one with the severe allergy- you’d do everything you could to protect them as this mother is trying to do. The solution is education- I’m hoping now that you’re better informed- you’ll be less worried about making more lunch decisions and more worried about your child- going to school and potentially harming another child- who could die as a result of your ignorance.

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