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BANNING PEANUT BUTTER ISN'T THE ANSWER

I would like to respond to the News article concerning Vincent LoPresti's severe allergy to peanuts. As a parent, I sympathize that they are sending their child into what could be a life-and-death situation that they have no control over.

While I do not deny the severity of the allergy, I believe the LoPrestis' proposed peanut ban is unrealistic in that it provides no assurances for safety.

First, they must teach their young son the importance of never eating any food that does not have their approval. Even seemingly innocent potato chips could contain trace amounts of peanut oil.

Second, a classroom could serve as Vincent's lunchroom. So as not to feel isolated, he could invite four or five friends to join him. Their lunches could be inspected by the school nurse. It is easier to monitor five students than 500.

Finally, declare his classroom a "Peanut Free Zone," subjecting only 20 or so students to the total ban. Affected students and parents must be educated as to the severity and sources of Vincent's allergy.

Should the LoPrestis be successful in instituting a total peanut ban and should Vincent have a fatal reaction due to exposure at school, does the school district then become a defendant in a wrongful-death lawsuit? And is the family that provided the peanut butter named as a co-defendant?

If the boy is classified as disabled, is there now a procedure for all who suffer from allergies? Should we ban all recesses and field trips because of allergies to grass, trees, ragweed and the fur on farm and zoo animals?

This situation must be dealt with in order to protect the life of a little boy. However, the LoPrestis are foolhardy in believing that any school district is capable of monitoring and controlling the lunches of 500 students, whether ordered to do so by a court of not.

KAREN M. DIXSON Amherst

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