MCLEAN, Va., Oct. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. health officials urge schools to adopt food allergy guidelines as published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to protect students.
John L. Lehr, chief executive officer of Food Allergy Research & Education, said his agency collaborated along with other groups on the development of the guidelines -- the first document of its kind.
The voluntary guidelines are intended to support the implementation of school food allergy management policies in schools and early childhood programs and guide improvements to existing practices.
"We strive to ensure that students with food allergies are both safe and included at school," Lehr said in a statement. "We strongly encourage schools to adopt these new guidelines, or to examine their existing plans to make improvements in line with the CDC's new recommendations."
Implementing these guidelines may help schools reduce allergic reactions, improve response to life-threatening reactions and ensure current policies are in line with laws that protect children with serious health issues.
The guidelines' recommendations include:
-- Avoiding the use of identified food allergens in class projects, parties, holidays and celebrations, arts, crafts, science experiments, cooking, snacks or rewards.
-- Training transportation staff on how to respond to food allergy emergencies; having rapid access to epinephrine auto-injectors in case of anaphylaxis, and training staff on how to use an epinephrine auto-injector.
-- Ensuring children with food allergies are not excluded from field trips, events or extracurricular activities, as well as physical education or recess activities.
-- Using non-food incentives for prizes, gifts and awards.
-- Designating allergen-safe zones, such as an individual classroom or eating area in the cafeteria, or designating food-free zones, such as a library, classroom, or buses.