The humble peanut is at the center of a surprisingly passionate debate, as the Department of Transportation mulls over a proposal to ban it from airlines. The classic snack has fallen out of favor thanks to peanut allergies which — while they only afflict 2 percent of Americans — are the leading cause of food-related deaths. Especially sensitive sufferers can react to peanut particles in the air, say advocates, a real concern in planes with closed-circuit air supplies. But some in the peanut industry are fighting back: "What's next? Banning peanuts in ballparks?" Martin Kanan, CEO of King Nut foods, told The Associated Press. Should nuts prevail?
Will it take a tragedy to trash the nuts? Just because no one's died yet from an in-flight allergic reaction doesn't eliminate the risks, says Patrick Smith at Salon. Besides, nobody enjoys peanuts to such a dramatic degree "that switching to chips, raisins or granola bars is going to make the slightest bit of difference at the customer satisfaction level."
"No one's died yet, so peanuts must be OK"
First our shoes, then our belts... now our nuts? The vast majority of allergy sufferers will experience nothing more serious than "itching and sneezing" unless they actually ingest the nuts, says the "Opinion Zone" staff at The Palm Beach Post. Passengers must already strip off their accessories, pour liquids into three ounce jars, pay for carry-on luggage, sit in cramped seats, and wait patiently on the tarmac for hours. "Can't we at least save the peanut?"
"Ban peanuts on airplanes?"
Fine, ban peanuts — but where will it stop? "How far do you take the ban?" asks Christopher Elliott at his travel blog. If passengers are barred from bringing any peanut-contaminated items aboard, things could get contentious quickly. "Are flight attendants really going to confiscate my daughter's peanut butter cookie before boarding?" I don't think so. Given how difficult it is to regulate nuts in the air, it might be a better idea to "stock each flight" with allergy-fighting epinephrine shots.
"The hard facts about the peanuts on a plane rule everyone's talking about"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Here comes the Pentagon's newest space plane
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Extreme haunted houses: Inside Halloween's most terrifying new trend
- America's anti-feminist mega-corporations' toxic disregard for women must stop
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Did the media get Ferguson wrong?
- What the Middle Ages can tell us about the GOP's big charity myth
- The real story behind Deliver Us From Evil
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- This week I learned the surprisingly dark origins of the Nobel Prize, and more
Subscribe to the Week