With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life allergen-free.

10 February 2012

Interesting Article from Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota

I am glad I am on the mailing list for the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota.  I read this intriguing article (below) by Sue Hegarty--writer/editor of the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota Magazine--and had to share it with you! Thank you to the AAFA (MN) for permitting me to share it on Food Allergy Buzz.

Reprinted (online) with permission of the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota 

'Breakfast to Go'  Cause Allergens to Stay
Student Swabs Desks for Proteins as Science Fair Project
by Sue Hegarty (writer/editor, Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota Magazine)

A 7th grade student at Murray Junior High School in St. Paul knew exactly what he wanted to work on for his school science fair project. 

Max Narvaez wanted to see if "Breakfast to Go" - a new federal breakfast program that his district implements by allowing children to eat in classrooms - was a risk to children with severe food alle rgies.He used specialized protein detection swabs from 3M to swab desks in several classrooms.

"The main reason I chose it was because kids are having to eat in classrooms now. That can really affect people with food allergies. It leaves food behind or you have to miraculously wipe off the tables all the time," Max said.

The result? Seven of the eight desks he tested had detectable amounts of protein on them, an indication that food residue, which could endanger students with severe food allergies, was present on the desks

"I learned that having kids eat in classrooms does spread allergens," said Max, who has multiple food allergies and is personally affected by the Breakfast to Go program, which provides free food and beverages that students eat at their desks. 

"It was a very cool project," said his science teacher, Erin Dooley. "Max is great at explaining it to others who don't understand the ins and outs."
Max, the older son of AFAA co-founders Jeff Shaefer and Nona Narvaez, scored 91.5 out of a possible 100 points. Students are judged on creativity, scientific method and how well they knew the project. Judges included Hamline University instructors, graduate students and other community leaders.  Another project poster displayed at science fair studied delayed gratification with rewards of cookies: the astute student pointed out that it was important to use cookies that did not contain allergens for food allergic research participants or results would be skewed.

AFAA has been actively speaking with schooldistrict officials to educate about the hazards of the "Breakfast to Go" program, and Max has kept current with developments since he is directly affected by the program. Dooley has her own reasons why some teachers aren't happy with the breakfast program.

"There's just a lot that can go wrong. There can be spills on carpeting which require more cleanup than the average 12-year-old wants to do," Dooley added.  

The above article and images are reprinted with permission from the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Association of Minnesota 
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