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DOT Considers Peanut Ban on Flights

The U.S. Department of Transportation built on its rule banning airline carriers from subjecting passengers to long tarmac delays this month by introducing additional consumer protections.

The Department is asking for comment on several alternatives under consideration to provide greater access to air transportation for people with severe peanut allergies.

peanut-airplane-featured.jpgAccording to a DOT press release, “To support President Obama’s open government initiative, the Department has partnered with the Cornell eRulemaking Initiative in a pilot project, Regulation Room, designed to improve the public’s ability to understand and participate in this rulemaking through a web-based discussion format.”

Nearly 200 people have commented on the proposed rule through the Regulation Room comment function.  A sampling of comments:

Comments Supporting a Peanut Ban

1.  This comment is regarding the “peanut free” flights proposal. My grandson (10yrs old) has an extremely serious peanut allergy. Because of peanuts being served on airlines, we cannot take the chance..again.. of flying with him to visit relatives. Once before, we requested a peanut free flight because of this situation. We paid more money for this flight because the airline said they did not serve peanuts. What we discovered is that this was not the case. Peanuts were served on the flight to everyone around us. We were petrified that he would have an attack before we reached our destination. Luckily, it was a short flight and although he did have a reaction it was not life threatening…this time… Not only is there a danger if peanuts are served on the flight, but also any residue from peanuts served on previous flights can cause an allergy attack. I would hope that they would remove all peanut products from this service …replace with pretzels or chips. At least, for our family, it would eliminate the fear of flying. Thanks you for allowing me the opportunity of sharing my experience and thoughts on the subject

2.  Regarding proposed rules re persons with peanut allergies: As someone with a spouse with a life-threatening peanut allergy (which she has had since childhood), these regulations are of personal interest. I propose that peanuts and peanut-product-containing substances (but not necessarily those with only peanut oil–the allergen is usually a protein not present in high-quality oil) be banned from airplanes in the sense that cigarettes/cigars/pipe tobacco etc. are “banned.” In other words, you may carry the items on board but you can’t use them. It is not carrying a bag of peanuts that is the potential problem, it is opening it and potentially putting peanut dust or other particles into the air. I doubt that someone eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich a few rows away would really be an issue, but why not be safe instead of sorry…and also make the rule easier to enforce? Just like the “no smoking” rule. Several airlines have already given up serving peanuts (perhaps as a cost issue, more than anything); perhaps all should. I doubt if the peanut-grower lobby could object too vigorously, because I would think the economic value of peanuts served on airplanes would be minimal in the overall use of peanuts. Also, it would pay to inquire whether persons allergic to peanuts (a New World legume) are also allergic to nuts (i.e., things that grow on trees). I don’t think you will find many allergic to both, so other “nuts” would be ok to serve (except, of course, if one is highly allergic to tree nuts). The risk [to] a passenger is high given the fact that epi-pens or other epinephrine injectors have a limited effect, and the usual medical instruction is to get to an emergency room within 10 or 15 minutes of its use. Not generally possible if you are on a plane! Just because we haven’t heard in the press recently about anyone dying from a peanut on a plane, do we need that to happen before a sensible rule is in place? I doubt you will find a volunteer.

3.  Consumer Rule II–Peanuts on Flights please consider peanut free flights.  My 2 year old son had his first peanut reaction while on a flight while sitting in a peanut-free zone.  My older son has a peanut allergy so we were all sitting in the zone when the 2 year old started a reaction.  I was able to treat him because I had the medicine for the older child with me.  Later on though allergy testing we found out his peanut allergy is five times more severe than his older brother.  The problem with peanuts on flights is the dust and oil are everywhere..on the seats, the seatbelts, magazines..etc. Also the recirculated air keeps the dust airborne.  Thanks for considering this in the bill.

4.  Regarding proposed rules re persons with peanut allergies: As someone with a child allergic to both peanuts and walnuts, these regulations are of personal interest. I propose that peanuts and peanut-product-containing substances be banned from airplanes in the sense that smoking is banned. The biggest risk is to have someone have an allergic reaction requiring the use of an epi-pen and not being able to get to an emergency room within 10 to 15 minutes of use. My daughter has broken out in hives (which lead to anaphylaxis) after sitting in a restaurant with peanut residue and shells in the air. At first I thought it would not be a problem since she would not be ingesting the peanut products. Well I was wrong! It was very scary watching over her that night and giving her Benadryl and praying she would have an anaphylaxic reaction. I can?t imagine having to deal with that in the air. Banning peanuts or inconveniencing passengers, etc to make an emergency landing for a medical emergency? I vote to ban peanuts!!!!!

Comments Against a Peanut Ban

1.  Banning peanuts is ridiculous. Are you going to pull them out of restaurants? I have celiac disease — I CAN’T have pretzels, crackers, etc. No wheat — in fact, I would argue that wheat is basically bad for most people. All of a sudden, everyone has food allergies. I do bring my own food, but I resent having to bend my life for everyone else’s issues. If they don’t eat the peanuts, they will not have a severe reaction. If they let the airline know, keep it off their row. Oh for heaven’s sake, serve cashews or walnuts — better for you, anyway.

2.  I am opposed to banning peanuts from flights. You are denying the rights of the vast majority of passengers to accommodate less than one tenth of one percent of the flying population. You are discriminating against passengers with diabetes who must watch their consumption of carbohydrates such as pretzels, snack bars, and chips which airlines serve. Denying a product that has near zero net carbohydrates is grossly unfair and dangerous for diabetics. The number of flyers with diabetes or other blood sugar disorders dwarfs the number of flyers with peanut allergies. I urge you to never invoke such a lopsided, unfair rule on the flying public.

3.  One more example of the government getting involved where they shouldn’t. Let the carriers promote Peanut free flights if they want to. Do not get the government involved. Next they will regulate body odors and perfume.

4. It would be the ultimate stupidity to ban peanuts when there are so very few people who are truly allergic. These people do NOT have a Constitutional right to fly on a peanut free aircraft. OK, maybe (just maybe) the 3 foot buffer makes sense, but that’s all. An allergy is not a disability, and if they are really that allergic they can choose to fly an airline that doesn’t serve peanuts. I know no one thinks about it anymore, but personal responsibility still should count for something.

To read more about the rule, or to comment, visit the Regulation Room

Comments should be filed by August 9, 2010. Late-filed comments will be considered to the extent practicable.

Comments can also be delivered by mail or hand delivery to:

Docket Management Facility,
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE.
Room W12-140
Washington, DC
Hand Delivery or Courier:
West Building Ground Floor
Room W12-140
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE.
between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal Holidays.

(202) 493-2251

© Food Safety News
  • I strongly support banning peanuts on public transportation.
    There is nothing more important than a person’s life, and whether or not this is a popular statistic, peanut allergies are often horrific and deathly.
    I cringe when people who do not live with this allergy whine about how they would rather compromise a life than do without a SNACK food.
    Die over a snack food?
    The reason this needs to be banned from airplanes is that if one does experience anaphylaxis in an aircraft, there is just NO way to guarantee that a shot of epinepherine will cure the reaction until the plane can be landed safely.
    Sorry, but this is a major issue for public safety.
    And my child, my friend, my fellow passengers all have more of a right to life than a stupid snack food.
    To try to rationalize this argument is crass and selfish. Sorry. It’s a snack food, or a life.
    And, hello? Those of you who love to spout “statistics?”
    The statistics are that severe peanut allergies are increasing. The final jury is never in on this subject because the final statistic on how many people could die from anaphylaxis due to peanuts is a moving target. It’s moving up, not down.
    And the complaint you have today about “there are so many restrictions these days…bla, bla, bla…” may STATISTICALLY become the sad tale you tell about someone very near and dear to you in the future being born with some very similar abnormal reaction of the immune system to, yes, peanuts.
    Sorry. But I feel very strongly about this.
    If you would like to complain to me personally, do so at my 2000+ member facebook group,
    I’d love to have a dialogue with you about it.
    It matters to me.
    Louise Larsen

  • Doc Mudd

    I favor designating “peanut-free” aircraft and flights sufficient to carry the afflicted to and from major airports.
    I do not support the notion that “peanut-free” become a standard requirement of every aircraft and every flight – that would be unnecessary and more than a little silly.
    Be forewarned that a designated “peanut-free” flight schedule would, out of practical necessity for filling seats, likely occur at inconvenient times and, no doubt, it would be expensive to book passage on such a special airship. This is no more onerous than compromises in convenience and cost that might be expected for special passage by, say, a patient on life support or a dignitary who is targeted for assassination.
    Don’t inconvience thousands of us peasants to accomodate a single passenger. Don’t bog down my ordinary bourgeois conveyances or price them out of my range – arrange separately to have your special needs filled, thanks.

  • Mark Smith

    kids are the most at risk for having an emergency allergy on air flights and should be prevented to avoid any bad circumstances.

  • I agree with the banning too! I just cannot figure out why anyone would argue that it infringes on their rights? What? Seriously? People cannot live without eating a 1/4C serving of peanuts? If they love them so much they could just wait and buy them at the snack shop at the airport or hotel! Just silly. Our son has to carry an Epi-pen and it is frustrating that anyone would be opposed to protecting the life of someone who could die in mid-air. Our son has many foods he is allergic to and had many intolerances too – fortunately he is much better with intolerances from his chewable probiotic…but it is still very very serious for him to eat anything that is an actual “allergen” and we just do not know how it would be for him to be near these either. One row of banning peanuts would not make me comfortable either considering the next row is just a foot away! Unless you have a child or loved one who has or could have a serious reaction – I guess it’s just something that no one can possibly relate to.

  • Food allergies can be fatal! I don’t see why there is any question about peanuts on planes. They are not needed. There are plenty of peanut free snacks that airlines can offer.
    My take on this ~ BAN THE DAMNED PEANUTS ALREADY!!

  • Lindsey

    Banning peanuts on planes is essential! Thousands of people cannot fly to visit loved ones, meet loved ones for the first time, celebrate marriages, attend funerals, hug Grandma and Grandpa simply because of a snack that has traditionally been served on planes? Why is this still an issue? Why are we still fighting this? Absolutely ban peanuts from planes!

  • Rhonda

    I have a 6 year old grandson that has anaphylactic shock to peanuts.He would love to fly and come to see us,but, his numbers are too high to chance it. Since learning of his condition,I have talked to so many people with this life and death problem. Peanuts are not worth a life! Can people not eat peanuts for just the time they are on a plane, to save ones’ life? If not, we live in a very sad society indeed!!
    Please ban peanuts for those who would love to fly and can’t because of this issue. Thank you!

  • Pap

    I just want my grandson, who is anaphylactic shock to peanuts to be able to fly home so he can ride with me on my tractor.

  • kathy chiaravalli

    I have had peanut induced anaphalatic shock on an airplane while pregnant. I have also had other emergency room visits due to peanuts. Masks don’t work, airline procedures for submitting allergy info are not very effective, it is difficult and embarrassing to have to ask other passengers not to eat peanuts (they are often starving) an epipen isn’t 100 % effective. Are incremental profits from in flight peanut sales more important than lives? I empathize with people with other allergies. I’m not sure why a personal air purifier would not be allowed. I remember when planes were toxic buckets of tobacco smoke, airlines reduced expenses by banning smoke while improving passenger health even though this reduced tobacco profits. Many airlines have banned peanuts, perhaps due to liability and expense. Delta seems to be allied with the georgia peanut industry and continues to insist on providing this life-threatening snack. Unfortunately, I live in a Detla hub and there aren’t many alternatives. It is kind of interesting that increasingly you have to pay for everything onboard, yet the airlines want to right to provide a snack that is poison to a significant number of flyers.

  • Laura Crystal

    This is a no-brainer… For people with the peanut allergy this is life-threatening: anaphylaxis and possibly death. How can anyone possibly object to the banning of this non-essential snack substance for just the duration of a plane flight? How selfish have people become? A life is precious, and even if only one person’s life is saved because of this ban I would cheerfully give up peanuts forever for it.

  • John L

    I am not allergic to peanuts but I agree with the ban. I love reese’s peanut butter cups but not enough to danger some kids life. I’ll eat a pretzel until we land. Some of these opponents of the ban are being a little too dramatic. Constitutional right to eat a peanut…come on. Eat a raisin and get over yourself.

  • H.Marx

    Try having a granddauhter with a peanut alergy…There should be no question as to the banning of peanuts on airlines..Really, how important is it that peanuts be served endangering the lives of children and adults having this alergy….Makes no sense to even have a discussion in this regard.

  • susan smith

    Banning peanuts on flights would not help. As many posters revealed, peanut dust, having just eaten a sandwich or crackers and not washing your hands, could trigger an allergic reaction. So, you can ban peanuts, but who is to say the person behind you doesn’t take out a package of peanut butter crackers and chow down. You can not get away from it.

  • Carissa Moon

    As a parent of a child with severe food allergies, including peanuts, I completely support the ban on peanuts in flights. We are currently trying to find a peanut free flight to save us a multiple day drive with 3 small children. From what I’ve found there is no such thing. View this discussion from my perspective: For some it’s only a matter of keeping a favorite snack on board, for us its a matter of my child ARRIVING ALIVE, NOT DEAD to our destination and home again. I’ll take it to the next level, ban food, except for infants and those with medical conditions, or on flights longer than 6 hours. It saves on cost to the airlines! Serve bottled water and thats all, Dont allow passangers to pack snacks. A rummbly tummy for some means a longer life for others.