Airing the issue about nuts

Should nuts be banned on flights?

Eating the right food can make or break your day, particularly for foodie Singaporeans. 

When you are in mid-air, sometimes, all you have to look forward to is good entertainment and good food. And on many flights, nuts are a standard snack that can satisfy passengers. 

But what if some of these seemingly ordinary snacks can actually result in a matter of life and death, for passengers with food allergies?

What's going on?

On Jul 19, 3-year-old passenger, Marcus Daley, suffered a severe allergic reaction on board a Singapore International Airlines (SIA) flight. 

While the boy had a nut-free meal, the young passenger suffered from a bout of anaphylaxis, a rapid, severe and potentially lethal allergic reaction, when other passengers started opening packs of peanuts that were served to them.

Although the situation was brought under control with medication brought by his parents, and crew immediately stopped serving peanuts on that flight, some feel more could be done for allergy sufferers. 

Currently, nuts allergy is not that common in the Asian region, but is more prevalent in the Western part of the world. In Singapore, it ranks second behind shellfish allergy.

Following the incident, SIA is reviewing its policy of serving nuts on board flights. In a statement issued by the airline, the company said that while nut-free meals can be specially arranged for its passengers, the airline is "not able to provide a nut-free cabin or guarantee an allergy-free environment on board" its flights.


Some netizens felt that future incidents could be avoided if the airline
stopped serving nuts on board flights, due to the potential risk of allergic reactions.
PHOTO CREDIT: SIA'S FACEBOOK PAGE

Joey Han, who is allergic to shellfish, said: "I think they should ban all nuts. Since it can be a matter of life and death, such precautions should be taken.

"There is no particular reason why they must serve nuts on planes. It’s not like nuts are a national dish of the country," added the 22-year-old undergraduate.

Similarly, undergraduate Low Xingyi, 23, felt that nuts should be removed as it is a common allergen.

"If I were in charge, I would remove nuts [from on board flights] because peanut allergy is common and deadly enough to warrant a ceasing of serving it."

While other airlines have taken the severity of nut allergies into consideration, some have adopted special measures to ensure the safety of its passengers.

For instance, Australian airline Qantas Airways adopts a no-nuts policy, while American Delta Air Lines switches to other snack options on board when passengers notify them prior to their flight about their peanut allergy. 

However, not everyone is convinced about banning nuts altogether on flights.

21-year-old undergraduate Nerissa Tan, whose younger brother has a severe nut allergy, felt that airlines should provide a nut-free cabin when anaphylactic passengers are on board.

"But to go as far as to [ban nuts] is a stretch because it will not only affect those on flight, but everyone who will potentially take planes. Those who have allergies should already have taken necessary precautions," she added.

 
Banning nuts may not be the only option to combat the issues of allergy reaction on flights.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/KYLIE KAY

Undergraduate Priyaa Nedunzeliyan felt that it is not fair to impose a restriction on others who do not share the same allergy.

"People will be upset that you impose your dietary restrictions on them as well. Like what SIA said, even if they don't serve peanuts on board, they cannot control the food the passengers decide to bring and consume on board," said Priyaa, 22.


Packets of peanuts have been a common snack distributed on flights since the 1970s.
PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/KYLIE KAY

Some believe that it is one's responsibility to protect themselves against possible allergic reactions.

"If I know that my condition is that serious, it won't make sense to leave the odds to other people. Better to take some self-precautions than to rely on others," explained undergraduate Abdul Matin, 23. 

Polytechnic student, Amanda Choo, 20, felt that passengers should inform the airline beforehand if they have specific dietary or health-related conditions that requires special precautions.

She added: "It is uncommon [to find] someone who is seriously allergic to something...And since the child's parents were aware of how serious their son's condition is, the situation could've been averted, if they had alerted SIA about it."

What's your take?

1. Should airlines stop serving nuts on board to accommodate to passengers with allergies? Why?

Tell us what you think by leaving a comment on our article or social media platforms! Submit the best response by Aug 4 and win a $10 4Fingers voucher!

BANNER/TEASER PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTH.SG/KYLIE KAY