DOT Lacks Power To Ban Peanuts From Flights

Just when it looked like all the crusaders who want to get peanuts banned from flights were inching closer to epic victory, along comes a federal law to crack their shells.

Food Safety News reports the Department of Transportation and Federal Aviation Administration can’t go around just banning the old standby snack. Thanks to a 2000 law, the DOT and Congress would need to commission peer-reviewed scientific studies that prove the practice of serving peanuts on flights puts allergy sufferers in danger, and any ban would have to wait 90 days after the studies came in.

Deciding it doesn’t want to go through the hassle for now, DOT ditched the proposal in June. So congrats to peanut supporters. You’ve still got your nuts.

DOT’s Peanut Ban on Airlines is Grounded [Food Safety News via Strollerderby]
(Thanks, Helaine!)

Previously: The DOT Wants Your Opinion On In-Flight Peanut Ban
Should Peanuts Be Banned From Airplanes


Edit Your Comment

  1. legwork says:

    In other news, Congress to decide future of immigration with giant game of Twister!

  2. coren says:

    If they never had the power (and they would know this, one hopes) then why were they toying with it to begin with? That just makes them look stupid.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It’s not that they don’t have the power – like other governing bodies, they can’t just go around doing whatever the heck they want just because they want to. It makes sense. Why should they just do what they want without having evidence to back up what they’re doing?

    • Kitamura says:

      It’s not that they don’t have the ability, it’s that they don’t want to bother with it now that they see the hoops they’d have to go though to get it done.

    • Chaosium says:

      They never really wanted to, it was to placate a very vocal minority.

  3. humphrmi says:

    So congrats to peanut supporters. You’ve still got your nuts.

    Technically, peanuts are legumes.

  4. rpm773 says:

    …the DOT and Congress would need to commission peer-reviewed scientific studies…

    Commissioned studies on peanuts? Job creation? The recovery summer marches on!

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      No, not studies on peanuts – studies on whether peanuts in airplanes actually poses a significant risk.

      Banning peanuts on planes isn’t just a simple task, you know. If you ban peanuts on airplanes, you need to generate memos, press releases, signage, etc. for airlines. Airlines have to notify customers. The company that produces the bags for peanuts can’t do that anymore and the company that produces peanuts for the airline can’t do that anymore.

  5. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    Out of curiosity, have there been many reported instances of deaths or horrible reactions on airlines to people allergic to peanuts? If not, then it seems much ado about nothing. If there are kids dying left and right, then I’ll give up my peanuts. Just don’t take my Jack and Coke.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      None. Not one, not once, never. It is a complete non-issue. Only 100 people in the country die each year from nut-related allergies; to have that happen while on a plane would require beating astronomical odds.

      • chaesar says:

        some amazing odds indeed, if it happens on a plane you better take that body to Vegas for some Weekend at Bernie’s-style gambling

        hot hand in a dice game!

    • Nidoking says:

      There was one in a Monk novel, but that was fictional, and it was a murder.

    • evnmorlo says:

      I’m sure if there were there would have been massive lawsuits. People like to think they and their children are special, even if it comes from their being defective. Slight exposure to peanuts might reduce their allergies and they would be reduced to being normal.

    • satoru says:

      For kids most parents carry around an EpiPen in case of acute reactions. Some kids do have very severe allergies that can kill them. But the reality is you need to actually ingest the peanuts to get to that point. Some kids are very sensitive and can have a reaction with the proteins in the air, but not to the extent that they would need medical attention. They’re just miserable, coughing with rashes, etc. Not fun for parents, or the people next to them though.

      Though I think most flights are already moving away from peanuts anyways in America. They’ve kinda gone with pretzels and such. Usually international carriers don’t give a crap about some random American kid’s allergies so they continue to serve peanuts and peanut derivatives.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        While they move away from peanuts, they can charge a $4.50 premium on a $1 bag of Gardettos.

    • pot_roast says:

      ZERO. But ‘my child is allergic to peanuts’ is the new boogeyman, and the hysteria over the issue is massive. The CDC reports that maybe 11 people die each year from food allergy anaphylaxis. It’s the “but it could be MY child…” hysteria that has people all riled up. Articles about this always have comments like “As the mother of a child who spent THREE DAYS in bed last week, with horrible stomach & head pain, because someone near her ate a peanut butter cracker – one kid is too many.” that’s from a HuffPo article.. really? three days sick because a kid NEAR HER are a peanut butter cracker?

      Yet we’re all supposed to sit down and shut up when people have cats & dogs on planes. (before the mommy crowd jumps all over me, my wife has worked in ob/gyn and pediatrics for many years and has plenty of experience in this area. I also work in EMS and we can count the number of food allergy related calls in a ten county area on our fingers.)

      • msbask says:

        Well said!

      • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

        Sick for three days because a severe allergy? I have an anaphylactic reaction to fire ants and have come close to dying from (the first reaction I had.) The docs said if I would have come in 5 minutes later, I would have died. I have since had reactions several times. I have never been in bed for three days. Usually, I feel like crap for a few hours from the epipen, getting shot up with Benadryl and roids. But the next day, I am good to go. I also don’t run around with tall boots incasing my feet just in case. I even wear flip flops despite the fact that I live in fire ant country and could potentially die from a sting.

        My point is that you can’t let a severe allergy keep you or other people from living. Fear isn’t going to change much. You just have to be aware and get on with life.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          Amen to that. I have potentially life-threatening allergies to shellfish and wasp stings but somehow I’m still around. I use common sense and make sure I always have benadryl on hand in case I can feel a reaction starting. I make people aware of my allergies, but not in a “YOU MUST BOW TO ME” way…just in a “Just let me know if shrimp’s on the menu so I can bring my own” kind of way.

          Life goes on, and the world definitely doesn’t revolve around me and my allergies.

          Oh, and the last time I went to the emergency room for a severe allergic reaction I spent the evening in the ER, went to work the next day. I was fine, just a bit tired.

        • craptastico says:

          great. so i guess i can’t bring fire ants onto planes now either? so much for a “free country”

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          yeah i have a severe onion allergy but a benadryl administered in time and i’m safe in a couple of minutes and feeling fine in half an hour, if maybe a little tired from the stress.
          my dad did spend a day in bed from fire ant bites once but that was before benadryl was available OTC and he got 40 bites on his legs and arms.

        • Conformist138 says:

          Amen. My seasonal allergies won’t likely kill me, but they’re some of the worst my allergist had seen (patch test stopped early, dosed with meds, given an epipen and told not to leave the house until the swelling went down). Depending on the allergy, just carry a tote with all the stand-bys: Epi-pen, benadryl, eye drops, nasal spray, tissues, aloe lotion, etc. Most people won’t need them all, just the ones that help their particular symptoms. If you carry only needed amounts, it all can fit in a small zip-lock bag. No stress, no nerves, no panic. When you have everything you need and you are well informed about your condition, there is no need to worry about anything. If something happens, you know you’re prepared to handle the emergency. Most kids can be taught to give themselves the Epi-pen injection just like an asthmatic learns to use an inhaler.

          We all have special considerations in life, but it’s up to us to deal with them ourselves before becoming a tyrant to every stranger around us. The pathetic thing is all the fussing about what other people do can stunt sufferers from learning how to properly manage their own health. A funny thing I also heard is the prevalence of people thinking they are deathly allergic just because their parents had a meltdown when they got the flu shortly after looking at a peanut. There’s a sad number of “peanut-allergy sufferers” who either don’t know they grew out of it, never had it to begin with, or have a far milder allergy than they claim. They just assume a nut will kill them and never stop whining about it.

      • Derek Balling says:

        If 11 deaths a year, none of which are from an actual airline flight, can cause this sort of attention, I want something to be done about those crappy airline seats with narrow width and shallow seat-pitch that are a breeding ground for DVT (which actually HAS caused deaths from in-flight affliction).

    • Primarylupine says:

      If my opening a bag of peanuts will cause the throat of the meat siren behind me to swell closed and finally shut them up, I’m all for keeping them on the plane.

      (Actually, it wasn’t the kid that was annoying on my last flight, it was the mom with the constant “shut up!” that had me ready to force-feed her a $7 pillow)

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Yes! The frenzied tactics of a mom desperate to keep her child from uttering a peep are far and away more distracting, loud and annoying than a fussy child. I sat next to a woman on a plane whose husband and toddler were sitting on the other side of the aisle. Dad was just letting the toddler kind of chill standing on the floor, reading his magazine and not paying her much mind, and she was totally quiet. Mom had a complex about Dad, so she demanded to hand the toddler off to her; she kept jiggling her keys in the tot’s face, playing stupid games with her and basically overstimulating the previously passive child until the kid just lost it. Which of course resulted in me getting kicked and drooled on for ten minutes until I stood up and basically gave the mother the “Get up and take your kid somewhere else” look.

  6. Vandil says:

    As i’ve said before, let the people with special needs make special arrangements and leave the rest if the normal human population alone.

    Or let Darwin handle it.

  7. kricka says:

    Another hit on the Food Police. Hooray for our side!!!

  8. DanRydell says:

    Trying to prevent evolution is disadvantageous to the species.

  9. Anne Boleyn says:

    Science – 1
    Nutjobs – 0

  10. ngoandy says:

    It sounds like big peanut won this time.

  11. nbs2 says:

    Something good to come out of the Cheney administration.

    Wait – the election was 2000, so this was Clinton. Nevermind.

  12. edosan says:

    Who still serves peanuts? I haven’t had peanuts on a flight in years.

  13. dreamfish says:

    It’s nuts.

  14. Harmodios says:

    This is a victory for Freedom

    • rpm773 says:

      Perhaps peanuts should be renamed “freedom nuts”.

      “You mean to say you’re against freedom nuts, man? Go back to Russia!”

  15. Wowbagger.the.Infinitely.Prolonged says:

    …Thanks to a 2000 law, the DOT and Congress would need to commission peer-reviewed scientific studies that prove the practice of serving peanuts on flights puts allergy sufferers in danger, and any ban would have to wait 90 days after the studies …

    Is anyone else at all disturbed by the last line here? Surely if they went through with the required studies and the results showed a real danger, then what is the point of having to wait 90 days before they can do anything about it?

    • kmw2 says:

      Because publication of scientific studies on controversial topics is immediately followed by a watershed of wider peer review. You don’t want to implement a stupid rule based on a flawed scientific study, when waiting 90 days would give plenty of time for other people to go “um, actually…”

      Plus, it’s tough to do anything OMGNOW throughout an entire industry. Banning peanuts would involve not just chucking out boxes of peanuts, but probably decontamination of any galley or kitchen areas that had been in contact with them, and that takes time.

      • Englishee Teacher says:

        It’s probably so they can use up their current stock of nuts and source an alternative.

    • Kilawat12 says:

      probably so the study can be reviewed, you don’t want someone making up a study and then a law getting passed and THEN finding out there was some scientific misconduct

    • Awesome McAwesomeness says:

      Not really. I have never heard of anyone dying on a plane from allergies to peanuts. Surely there is a far higher risk of crashing, getting blood clots from long flights etc… Seems like if there is that much of a danger, then the person could wear some sort of a mask to prevent inhalation. But, heaven forbid someone actually take responsibility for their own allergy. The other 99% of us should go out of our way to make sure that one person doesn’t have a problem.

      • Wowbagger.the.Infinitely.Prolonged says:

        I completely agree with your point, but did you mean to post it here?

    • Wowbagger.the.Infinitely.Prolonged says:

      Thanks! Those are excellent points. I was thinking the DOT and airlines should be able to move immediately when necessary and not thinking about the repercussions of immediate, unthinking response to some of the ‘scientific studies’ we’ve seen the masses react to.

    • lettucefactory says:

      Maybe to give the airlines time to enter into new contracts with pretzel vendors (or whatever?) Not to cause undue harm to peanut distributors by having their airline business pull out all in one day?

      But yeah, I see what you mean, of course. It’s a dangerous, dangerous practice, and dammit we’re going to do something about it! *

      *in 90 days

  16. kmw2 says:

    What I want to know is, what airline serves peanuts instead of those nasty little ranch-flavoured pretzel thingies.

  17. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Last night I saw a commercial on TV for some website where you could fill out a quiz to see if your child was IN DANGER OF AN ALLERGY-RELATED EMERGENCY!!!! Yes they actually used the words “danger” and “emergency.” That was all the information there was. I assumed once you get there and determine your child is at risk then they will try to sell you some drug or other.

    I would have checked it out, but I had shut down the computer for the night. It seemed unnecessarily alarmist to me, however.

    • Remmy75 says:

      There is a lot of money to be made off of uninformed and paranoid parents.

      It always shocks me when my daughter watches PBS Sprout and there are commercials for this teach your 9-month old to read program. Parents who buy this are the same ones who are suing because they spent a fortune on Baby Einstien CDs and found out that listening to Motzart didn’t make thier kid a genius.

  18. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Could this potentially hurt the peanut industry? I am just curious if airlines buy enough peanuts that if something like this went through, would one or more people in the industry would lose their job? Since no one has ever died in air, that isn’t a risk I think is acceptable when people can wear masks, carry an epipen, inhaler, and Benadryl.

  19. Winston says:

    Hooray for peanut lovers! Boo to all you allergic douche bags. Crunch, crunch!!

  20. BigFoot_Pete says:

    I know this is going to be the dissenting viewpoint here, but I would be okay with a nut ban on flights because of the allergies.

    Now don’t get me wrong, I love my honey-roasted treats when I fly myself–but for people who do have allergies, especially severe ones to nuts, a enclosed metal tube that is possibly hours from actual help should an emergency arise, this can be a huge issue.

    If you have an allergy, you can perform in daily life and take precautions so your issue doesn’t affect others (choose your restaurants carefully, live near a hospital, only wear certain types of clothing or visit certain areas, etc.) A plane, at 35,000 feet is really one of the last places you want to have a medical emergency at any time, much less one that requires immediate injections like steroids or epinephrine.

    Just $.02

    • DF says:

      BigFoot_Pete, how dare you try to understand the challenges faced by people with serious allergies. The correct Consumerist-comment response is to demand that anyone allergic to nuts not be allowed on a plane. Get with the program ;)

    • Chaosium says:

      “this can be a huge issue.”

      But it’s not a huge issue. It’s not a huge issue in schools, either.

  21. SlappyFrog says:

    If you are so delicate you can’t even be near a peanut on an airplane you have far bigger problems and really shouldn’t be trying to fly any where.

  22. Geekybiker says:

    I’d bring my own peanuts.

  23. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    That picture looks like a lego head for Rocky Dennis.

  24. kataisa says:

    I’m still waiting for all of the so-called health experts to tell us why there’s a sudden rise in food allergies such as peanuts? When I was growing up there was no such thing as food allergies. Today, I’m always hearing stories about kids suffering from milk and peanut allergies. What’s up with that? Will the media/government ever do any investigative reporting about that, or would the truth about how dangerous commercial food and modern medicine has become would frighten the general public too much?

    • DuckAround says:

      They existed, you just didn’t know about them because the media wasn’t so pervasive.

      My dad has asked, since I’m a HS teacher, “Why are there so many retarded kids now? Didn’t have this many when I was growing up.” And as I explained to him, “Sure you did Dad – they just dropped out or were sent off to institutions back then, so you wouldn’t know about them. And no one was doing news stories on them back then.”

      That, and medical science is getting better at proper diagnosis.

      • Chaosium says:

        “They existed, you just didn’t know about them because the media wasn’t so pervasive. “

        Oh bull, the rates of autism always existed under a different diagnosis, but the “skyrocketing peanut allergies” aren’t.

  25. javert says:

    What about other allergies? I am horribly allergic to certain animals but these can be brought on planes in little cages. How cute! Your little toy dog can fly comfortably while I can neither breath nor see.
    Unless all allergens are banned, don’t pick favorites.

  26. CaptCynic says:

    I’m a little skeptical of these wide-scale bans on peanuts because a tiny portion of the population has a reaction to them.

    That said, I don’t see why airlines don’t proactively switch to other ‘snacks’ that don’t provoke such severe allergic reactions. Is there something inherently positive to peanuts that make them superior to say, pretzles or something else?

  27. Ixnayer says:

    When will people that don’t bathe or wear deoderant be banned from flights?

  28. esc27 says:

    How is this a bad thing. The law basically says that congress/DOT has to prove a snack is dangerous before banning it and provide plenty of time to debate the results of the study (the 90 days.) This is a common sense, good, practical way to manage policy. I;m shocked the law even exists….

  29. k1oik says:

    This administration deals with everything by banning it. That is the way you treat children, Mr. President. We are not children.

    You got some bad habits during your short time as a teacher.

    Oil well problem? Ban them. Peanut problem? Ban them. Freedom of speech causing problems? Ban it.

  30. Chaosium says:

    Good, people aren’t as allergic as their helicopter parents claim.

  31. rlipschitz says:

    Speaking as one who has long suffered from a peanut allergy (and I’ve had a couple of life threatening incidents), I was glad to see common sense prevail, several years ago, when airlines stopped serving peanuts. I don’t think I was personally ever at risk, but the 10 minutes during which time everyone was munching on the peanuts during a flight were rather unpleasant, the odour was pretty pungent and made me uncomfortable.

    Of course this was long ago, before 9/11 and travel by air became the total farce that it is now.

    I’m a little taken aback by some of the comments here. Sure this isn’t as sexy as some other health issues, but it’s real for some people. Given the recirculated air and limited space on board a plane, I don’t think it’s such an egregious limit on peoples’ freedom to avoid serving known allergens. Not being allowed to bring a water bottle, now that’s ridiculous.