Peanut allergies demand everyday life vigilance


Nicholas Jordan

Students must check labels carefully if they have food allergies.

Giselle La Brec

When Kevin Ewing had a peanut m&m at the age of two he had his first reaction. Having a peanut allergy restricts dietary options and few restaurants are safe. In-store options, as Ewing said, “ … are a little bit easier because you can read the back … ” and see what the product contains as well as if the product is cross contaminated.

People who have a peanut allergy should always read the product’s label and before going to a restaurant they should always check to make sure it is safe.  

Sometimes a restaurant will tell a patron with a peanut allergy that they are safe even though they are not. There was a restaurant that, “ … had an employee that perhaps wasn’t well informed on the allergy, perhaps didn’t take it seriously, but ultimately didn’t inform us until we arrived at the location and spoke to the manager that the entire restaurant was cross-contaminated,” Ewing said.

They even called the location that they were going to to make sure it was safe and then accurate information was not given.

Those with food allergies must inspect labels of food. (Giselle La Brec )

When Ewing goes to a new restaurant he would call ahead to make sure it is safe but if it is a fast food restaurant, he does not typically call, “ because their allergens are well standardized.” You usually cannot have desserts at restaurants, they are, “ … completely off limits.”

When people go to an ice cream place, … they use the same scooper for all the ice cream,” Ewing said. If they use the scooper for an ice cream that has nuts in it but then they use it for an ice cream that doesn’t have nuts, it is then cross-contaminated and no longer safe. Therefore ice cream places are not safe. 

 Ewing pays attention to the people around him as well as what they are eating because if, “ … somebody gets their hands in peanut butter, touches me I can get a big hive outbreak.” 

According to a 2016 Teen Vogue article, there was a case where a couple kissed and then the person with the peanut allergy died because the person they were with had something that contained peanuts. 

Allergies have grades or classes. Ewing is a four or higher, six is the highest. “And severity is for my allergy is it could kill me.”

Ewing’s allergy causes swelling, “ … the main thing is the swelling. The swelling is the danger point. The hives are an annoyance. Itching, but that’s kind of included in hives,” Ewing said.

Ewing feels when the child is young, it is the parent’s responsibility to, “ … look out for them”, to make sure that where they are eating is safe. “Always do your research on restaurants no matter what. Any reaction in theory can go south quick, so avoid a reaction at all costs.”

“Teach them to read food labels. The allergen information specifically. That includes things like contains or may contain, or processed in the same line as whatever the allergens substance in question is” Ewing said. 

To people who just found out that they have a peanut allergy, Ewing said, “Stay strong. You can make it through this. It’ll be okay … honestly, the main thing is you get used to it … You can 100 percent get used to it, it becomes a part of your life without a shadow of a doubt.”  

To people who do not have a peanut allergy, Ewing said, “Be understanding … It’s not like a fashion choice or anything, it’s not something that a person with an allergy would be proud of. It’s something that they at present cannot change. So that’s why you should be respectful…We’re not trying to make you change the way you live your life, we’re just trying to live our own….”