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No one understands the ill effects of food allergies or the potentially life-threatening results from consuming one's personal food enemies better than the sufferer. I understand this anxiety because I have had food allergies for more than 20 years. We all know someone who has had a bout with a food allergen; a rash from a king prawn, a bout of nausea after eating sesame seeds or a hospitalization after an acute attack of anaphylactic shock. For chronic sufferers, inspecting our food is a daily act of deliberate vigilance.

I understand the Grand Island boy's situation, and do not intend to minimize it. However, I would suggest that his parents do him a favor and teach him the value of accepting his lot and ways he can be personally responsible so as to minimize the effects of his allergies. Teach him to respect other's dietary choices, ask pointed questions relative to food content, ask for alternatives, explain his allergies, read food-packaging labels and carry an antihistamine or a remedy prescribed by a doctor. People die from food allergies, and preparedness is the best defense.

If he is trained to accept and cope with his situation, in the long run he will be in a better position to self-monitor. He will appreciate this approach when he enters into the world filled with a plethora of foods containing nuts. After 20 years, I still find random sesame seeds in places they shouldn't be, such as on the bottom of a plain bagel or baked into the heels of plain bread. It's just that way, and being cognizant is the protection.

Asking the school to eliminate peanut butter from the diets of all children attacks a fundamental American tradition, the peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich. As we close out the 20th century, I would like to think at least one tradition will be carried into the next millennium unscathed.

Martha Kavanaugh Orchard Park

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