Commercial Flights

Airline peanuts face ban in snack attack

Federal regulators are considering a snack attack on America's airlines that would restrict or even completely ban serving peanuts on commercial flights.

Advocates say the move would ease fears and potential harm to an estimated 1.8 million Americans who suffer from peanut allergies.

Peanut farmers and food packagers, however, see it as over-reaching and unfair to their legume.

"The peanut is such a great snack and such an American snack," says Martin Kanan, chief executive of the King Nut Companies, an Ohio company that packages the peanuts served by most US airlines.

"What's next? Is it banning peanuts in ballparks?"

Twelve years after Congress ordered it to back off peanuts, the US Transportation Department gave notice last week that it's gathering feedback from allergy sufferers, medical experts, the food industry and the public on whether to ban or restrict in-flight peanuts.

The peanut proposals were listed in an 84-page document including several other proposed consumer protections for air travellers.

Three options were given: banning the serving of peanuts on all planes; prohibiting peanuts only when an allergic passenger requests it in advance; or requiring an undefined "peanut-free zone" flight when a passenger asks for one.

A number of people have reported symptoms while flying but few were severe, said Scott Sicherer, who studies food allergies at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

(Published by NZ Herald – June 15, 2010)

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