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Food Allergies in School

What is a Food Allergy?1

A food allergy happens when the body’s immune system overreacts to the protein in certain foods. This causes an allergic reaction. Allergic reactions can be mild to severe and can also be deadly.

Health Canada lists ten common food allergens (the food a person is allergic to) in Canada, some of which include peanuts, tree nuts, milk, soy and eggs.

Food Allergy Treatment1

  • There is no cure for food allergies.
  • The only treatment is to avoid the food allergen and any products that contain that specific food.

Keeping the Classroom Peanut/Nut-Safe2

Many schools are now peanut/nut-safe to help protect children with peanut allergies. This means that any peanuts/nuts or foods that contain peanuts/nuts can’t be sent to school. This does not guarantee a peanut/nut-free environment, but does help to make the classroom safer. 

People with a peanut allergy are often told to avoid tree nuts, like almonds and pecans, as well. Sometimes peanuts and nuts are made in the same factory using the same equipment, which can lead to cross contamination of products. This is why nuts are also not allowed in some schools.

There are some steps you can take to help make the classroom safer for students with peanut allergies.

  • If your child has a food allergy, talk to the school and ensure an emergency plan is in place.
  • Encourage children not to share food at school.
  • Read the ingredient list to ensure that the foods you are sending to school don’t contain peanuts or peanut products.
  • Use the lists from Health Canada to find other names for peanuts, like arachis oil, beer nuts, valencias.
  • Avoid products that state “may contain peanuts/nuts” or “may contain traces of peanuts/nuts”.
  • Avoid food and products that don’t have an ingredient list.
  • There are some non-food sources of peanuts that we may not think about, like some cosmetics, sun screens and craft materials.

Other Food Allergies

If you have questions about other food allergies, like milk, mustard, soy or eggs, talk to the Public Health Nurse at your school and refer to the websites below.

Date of creation: January 21, 2013
Last modified on: August 25, 2021


1Health Canada. (2012, August 22). Food Allergies and Intolerances. Retrieved from
2Healthy Canadians. (2013, February 15). Safe School Lunches. Retrieved from