- Published: Tuesday, 21 May 2019 21:25
You can still take yourself out to the ballgame, but anything with peanuts is now off the menu—at least in Dunkin' Donuts Park in Hartford, Connecticut. In a move some would call proactive precaution while others would label it protectiveness pushed too far, the park, home of Colorado Rockies AA team the Yard Goats, has banned all peanut products in a move to safeguard the health of people who, for literal fear of dying, have never set foot in a ballpark.
Peanut allergies are no laughing matter: just a little peanut dust, a small fragment of peanut, or a dab of peanut butter can cause an allergic individual to go into severe anaphylactic shock. The sufferer's own immune system attacks them, inflaming airways and closing them off in a matter of minutes, threatening suffocation. It's especially bad in young children, and while one can take precautions, a single Epipen—or even several—may not be enough to reverse the effect. It often takes hospitalization to save someone with an out-of-control peanut allergy reaction.
While I'm a big fan of peanuts and peanut butter, I understand the concern. Generally, allergy suffers are safe from most peanut products nearby (even in the next seat), as long as they don't ingest some of it—but dust from peanut shells can drift significant distances in an outdoor arena. That dust can be deadly.
For years, manufacturers have been required to create non-perishable food labels and freezer stickers warning consumers that products either contain peanuts, or were processed in a facility that also processed peanuts or tree nuts. While freezer labels rarely need the warning, it's common for baked goods, candies, and the like.
While some minor and major league stadiums have peanut-free sections or peanut-free games (with thorough cleanings in between), Dunkin' Donuts Park is the first to outright ban peanut products. Some people think that going overboard, since the frequency of people with peanut allergies is somewhere about 1 in 100. But that works out to at least three million people in the U.S. alone —and the ban seems much more justifiable when it allows children to enjoy the great American pastime without risking their lives.