Case 281 – Junior school bans children bringing in a snack of fruit or rice cakes

 Junior School is to ban children bringing a snack of fruit or rice cakes to school on the grounds of “health and safety”. Their reasoning is that this is a health and safety risk to children at school with food allergies.

Panel decision

Whilst schools need to have procedures in place for managing pupils with food allergies, they should not misquote ‘health and safety’ as a reason for justifying a disproportionate ban on all snacks. Various guidance by other organisations than HSE make it clear that schools need to have a policy and an action plan in place to manage the risk of allergic reactions. A complete banning of all snacks seems a thoroughly disproportionate response which goes against some of the stated principles in the guidance of helping food allergic pupils to learn to take responsibility for their own allergy – an important life skill given that the world cannot be made nut/allergen-free!