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Peanut Allergy Op-Ed
The Problem With Peanuts: Allergies and Accomodation
Copyright © October 1998 Judy Stouffer. All rights reserved.
This article may not be copied or published anywhere, including in any electronic format,
without specific permission from Judy Stouffer, B.S., M.S.

The following letter was published in the Washington Times on October 27, 1998. The letter was written as a response to an editorial written on October 20, 1998 (p. A4) by Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Times.

To Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Times:


I read your editorial "A deadly serial killer is on the loose aloft" with great interest. I find any article that ridicules the reality of severe allergies distasteful, at best. Your percentages are probably factual but unimportant. If one happens to be the individual who has that allergy the numbers most certainly don't speak for themselves - the consequences are what speaks. And the consequences are not 'an itch' - they are anaphylactic shock, which is usually deadly.

Having said that, I find the suggestion of a 'peer-reviewed' study equally wrong-headed. Let me draw a parallel:

Suppose you have a man squashed by a concrete slab dropped off a twenty story building. The death is observed by others, but doesn't occur in a confined and controlled laboratory setting - it is simply seen by passerbys who are a mother, a doctor, a pipe fitter, a school teacher and the usual mix of people found on a busy city street. If we draw a parallel to the request being made here, then one would need to set up a laboratory with a staff of trained scientists, and drop concrete slabs of equivalent size off of the equivalent height platform onto 'volunteers,' record the results, submit it to a peer-review panel for a specific journal, and then have those results - if accepted - published before concluding that that dropping concrete on people kills them.

It is idiotic to intentionally induce anaphylactic shock for any reason - which is the severe allergic reaction mostly commonly associated with peanuts, and a reaction that is well-documented by scientists, doctors and people in general. It is particularly idiotic when we have excellent observed data already available.

What a stupid waste of taxpayer's dollars, and a blatant misuse of peer-reviewed studies.

The original point of restricting peanuts in a small area within an aircraft was to accomodate the needs of the severely allergic. It is sad that we have to legislate to protect those who ask for accomodations from the actions of others. It is even sadder that individuals in a position to educate the public about the life-threatening needs of these people ridicule and dismiss the efforts that are made to provide those accomodations.

Judy Stouffer, B.S., M.S.

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