Cousins Ryan Otis and Gabby
Langan share a nut-free snack.
and Anaphylaxis Network
(FAAN) in Virginia, 3 million
school-aged American children
have food allergies. "Of those,
600,000 are believed to be
allergic to peanuts:' said Anne
Munoz-Furlong, founder and
CEO of FAAN. And only about 20
will ever "outgrow" the allergy.
According to FAAN, up to 25
percent of food allergy reactions
in school are first-time reactions
for the child.
In addition to school-age chil-
dren, one in every 17 children
under the age of 3 also has food
"We really don't know why
more children-are prone to food
allergies than in past years:' Dr.
Facktor said. "But peanut aller-
gies have doubled in the last 10
He cites studies in China,
where no nut allergies exist
though many Chinese dishes
include nuts. A study suggests
the roasting process used here,
but not there, could produce
According to FAAN, peanut
allergies are the fastest-growing
food allergy in the United States.
At Hillel, parents started an
allergy awareness group to help
their allergic children. "We call
each other before school pro-
grams and holidays to make sure
the food is safe for all the kids
or that the parent is aware they
should send something different
to school with their child;' Ellyn
But, in most cases, Glickman
said, "We make sure that when
a program involves a grade with
a child with a food allergy we
order treats that are allergy-free.
Our parents even make nut-free
charoset at Passover."
In contrast to Hillel, Forest
Elementary School in
Staff photo by Armando Rios
St eve Katz displays
nut-free baked goods
at Bake Station.
Farmington Hills has been com-
pletely nut-free for two years.
"For years, we have had chil-
dren in our school with varying
degrees of severity of allergies:'
said Lloyd Lewis, Forest's prin-
cipal. "The number of kids with
severe food allergies has gone up
exponentially in the last 10-15
years so we made the decision to
"We can never guarantee 100
percent that nothing will enter
our school that could cause an
allergic reaction in a student:'
Lewis said. "We tell all of our
families we are a nut-free school,
then we remind them. We include
it in our registration packets, and
we have signs up. We teach our
kids what food allergies are and
what they can do to help kids .
who have them."
The school is equipped with
EpiPens and with staff who know
how to use them, just in case.
For Carol Finkelstein, whose
Thinking her son was choking,
she and her husband tried the
Heimlich maneuver, then ran for
a neighbor who was a firefighter
and emergency medical techni-
"By the time he arrived, Emery
was vomiting;' Ellyn said. "He told
us that was a common reaction.
He also told us that even though
Emery seemed to be doing better,
we should go straight to the hos-
pital. He said if we stayed home
and put him to bed, he would not
Even after an anaphylactic
injection and a dose of Benadryl
at the hospital, Emery's symp-
"He developed quarter-sized
hives on his stomach, head and
face — so many of them you
couldn't even see his skin:' she
son has multiple food allergies,
said. "Then we learned that the
concerns about placing him in
shots only last 15-20 minutes and
a school that claims to be nut-
one person may need several. I
free override what some see as
have four EpiPens in my purse
"These schools do not teach
She may need one herself. Two
children to live in the real world
and create artificially sterile envi- years after Emery was diagnosed,
Ellyn said, "I went into anaphy-
ronments:' said Finkelstein of
Orchard Lake. "There are peanuts . lactic shock after eating mush-
rooms and discovered I also have
and milk and other things kids
life-threatening food allergies!'
are allergic to everywhere else.
According to FAAN, 150-200
This creates a false comfort level
people die annually from anaphy-
in school and doesn't teach the
laxis to food, including children
child to be vigilant."
and young adults. Food allergy
Her family, including children
reactions cause more than 30,000
Ben, 41/2, who has food allergies
emergency room visits yearly and
and asthma, and Eliana, 6, with
most individuals with a reaction
environmental allergies and
ate food they thought was safe.
asthma, live in a nut-free home.
The Hard Way
Emery's allergic reaction to nuts
was discovered at age 2 1/2, when
he tasted just a small piece of a
cashew sliver. "Within seconds,
he was holding his throat:' Ellyn
As Emery gets older, his mom
said, "he is realizing from other
kids and from the news that he
On Guard on page 31
For the last year, the kosher Bake
Station in Southfield has been a totally
"For a long time, we had been
accommodating customers who
needed nut-free items," said owner
Steve Katz. "With each order, we
would bleach down a separate area
and package the items away from
other baked goods. After a while, we
decided more customers were looking
for nut-free items than were looking
for those with nuts."
So he converted the store into a
nut free location, substituting soy
nuts where tree nuts or peanuts used
"We use nothing that could cause
an anaphylactic shock," he said. And
apparently the taste satisfies custom-
ers as he said he has not lost business
because of the conversion, continuing
to be the sole baked goods provider
at several area synagogues. Local day
schools also see Bake Station as a
source of nut-free treats.
"It's where we buy our hamantash-
en for Purim and desserts for other
holiday parties," said Hillel Day School
parent Ellyn Weiss.
— Shell! Liebman Dorfman,
May 18 2006