Back to school is just around the corner, and lunch bags are bound to contain one controversial item: peanut butter sandwiches.

The number of people turning up with peanut allergies continues to rise. And because the consequences for allergy sufferers who are exposed to peanuts can be so serious, it’s created a conundrum for schools and school districts that want to protect vulnerable kids but not cut a staple food out of other children’s diets.

According to a piece in the Canadian Press, parents often have pretty extreme reactions to peanut bans in their kids’ schools. Notes one mom who asked for a ban in her allergic child’s school, “People left nasty posts on local message boards. One online writer suggested ending the issue by putting all the allergic children in a room together and feeding them peanuts.”

Interestingly, the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, an advocacy group in Fairfax, Virginia, doesn’t actually recommend blanket peanut bans. Instead, the group proposes that schools treat students’ allergies individually and “adopt plans that emphasize continued vigilance rather than food bans.”

Hopefully school districts will take this advice to heart. But it’s certainly easier for schools to send out a note banning peanut products than to educate staff and teachers on how to practice this continued vigilance, so don’t hold your peanut-tainted breath.

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