Nothing goes together like baseball and peanuts. Unless, of course, your child has a peanut allergy. Peanuts and peanut dust seem to be everywhere at baseball games!
Fellow food allergy blogger Jennifer B. has made it her personal mission to help those of us with PA kids like ours to know when and where our child can have a safe, peanut free baseball experience. In fact, she started a website dedicated to that very fact!!
Please help me welcome Jennifer from Free to Enjoy Baseball. (She also authors Food Allergy Buzz, a great food allergy blog). She agreed to answer a few of my questions about keeping our children safe at a baseball game.
*Thank for joining us Jennifer! Why did you start www.peanutfreebaseball.com?
I started www.peanutfreebaseball.com to consolidate all of the peanut-free and food-free seating information I collect on baseball. The information seems to come in dribs and drabs so this is my attempt to have a centralized location where we can put all of it.
*Do you find that most teams want to make accommodations for peanut allergic children?
Most, if not all, teams would love to accommodate fans with disabilities. Many ballclubs, however, are very concerned about the possibility of peanut dust flying in the air, possibly causing an allergic reaction. Many express concern about not being able to provide a safe enough environment for those with peanut allergies.
*Do you find minor league ballparks are more or less accommodating than MLB parks?
It seems that the minor league ballparks are more accommodating than major league parks. I think that is primarily due to the fact that the major league teams have an easier time bringing in the paying fans. A lot of the guys in the minors will move up in a year or two though, and it is a great way to enjoy a baseball game in a more allergy friendly environment and save a little money on the tickets too!
*What are some common things ballparks do to make baseball games safer for someone with PA?
The majority of the ballparks I have spoken with will power wash the seating area once or twice. They often schedule the peanut-free or food-free games to take place immediately after the team has played a number of games away, so hopefully most of the loose peanut dust will have blown or washed away. Then they sweep thoroughly and power wash. Often times, volunteers from the local food allergy support group will assist in preparing the seating area or do an "inspection".
In addition, some teams have discovered that it is important to get the mascot's costume cleaned immediately before the peanut-free or food-free game, because young children typically will take photos with the mascot and touch the costume. Some allergic individuals have experienced skin reactions from touching the mascot's costume, likely due to peanut residue on the costume. It's not something you would necessarily think of in preparing for a peanut-free game, but it is an extra step which may prevent an allergic reaction.
*What could they do better?
I actually haven't heard any complaints. I think that the ball clubs try their best to make as safe an environment as possible. They really want to reach out to all of their fans, especially children. Most allergic fans I speak with come away from peanut-free games and food-free games very positive and enthusiastic.
*What advice would you offer to a parent that wants to take their PA child to a baseball game?
I would say allergic fans and families need to keep in mind that it is a ballpark and people do eat peanuts there almost constantly. We cannot expect the baseball club to create an environment that is 100% allergy safe. They will do their absolute best to create as safe an environment as possible, but they cannot guarantee it. Watch your child, take all the necessary precautions as you do normally. Make sure they don't touch things they should not touch, pick things up...Most important, be sure to bring your Benadryl and your epipens. Be safe, be comfortable with your choices, and enjoy the game!
Thanks Jennifer! Anything else?
If anyone has any info on peanut-free seating, food-free seating or other accommodations at an upcoming game, please feel free to let me know. Just send an email to jenniferATfoodallergybuzz.com and I will post it on Free to Enjoy Baseball (www.peanutfreebaseball.com) and give you full credit for the tip! Or if you wish to remain anonymous, that's okay too! Let's get the word out on the accommodations so those with food allergies can take advantage of these opportunities and we can support these teams.
(Editor's note: To read a post I wrote on peanut allergies and baseball last year, click here.)
photo courtesy of flickr