Peanut Butter Lookalike Banned By School District

The Thames Valley school district in London, Ontario, has not only banned peanut butter and peanut-based products. Students are also not allowed to bring peanut butter substitutes because, says the district, it’s too hard to tell one from the other. As Thames Valley District school board director Bill Tucker wrote in a recent memo to parents:

“any products considered to be a peanut butter replacement are no more appropriate in our schools than regular peanut butter.”

Parents have been asked to “avoid using peanut butter and peanut butter alternatives because of the difficulty in being able to distinguish alternatives from the real thing.”

Trying to solve the eternal conundrum of packing a lunch for a child that will actually be eaten, parents are (understandably) not happy at the new restrictions (and all the more so as the school district made its decision based on one parent’s complaint, according to the  London Free Press website). Parents using soy butter or other peanut butter substitutes had been clearly labeling their child’s sandwiches as made with “pea-butter” and “NO NUTS,” but Tucker contends that “labels are useless in the chaos of an elementary school lunch hour.”

The Thames Valley school district memo specially mentioned WowButter, which makes a soy-based butter that is said to taste “just like peanut butter.” The company has been promoting a detailed program instructing parents how to label children’s lunches:

On the first day of school, WowButter parents send a prepared letter to the child’s teacher indicating their intention to pack the product in school lunches. From then on, every sandwich bag or container carried by the child is affixed with a “100% peanut and nut free” label provided by the company.

The company ships across North America, but so far, London is the only school district to raise hackles over the issue, said Mr. Mahon. “This is the frustrating part; we have hundreds of schools across Canada who have requested free samples and information … they’ve chosen the education route,” said Mr. [Scott] Mahon [of WowButter]. “The Thames Valley School Board has chosen to not educate and restrict – it just doesn’t make any sense.”

London-area schools were the first in North America to ban peanut butter and peanut products in the 1990s and many school districts throughout Canada and the US have followed suit. Nearly 2 percent of children in Canada face significant health risks if exposed to peanuts; in the US, 4 out of 10 children have some sort of food allergy.

What if a child is intolerant to wheat or dairy products? If school districts were to consider banning foods with wheat and dairy products, options for what students can eat would be drastically limited to foods children notoriously push aside, such as salads.

Have bans on what students can bring in school lunches gone too far?


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Photo of a soy nut butter topped rice cake by livelihood


Jim Ven
Jim Vabout a year ago

thanks for sharing.

Manuela B.
Manuela B5 years ago

a little too extreme.... to make it effective peanut butter needs erradicated completely and who wants that.....people have to be responsible for themselves....

Lauryn Slotnick
Lauryn S6 years ago

Even though a small number of students can have such a severe allergy that they cannot be near peanut butter, banning it entirely still seems too extreme, since these children will have to learn to watch out for themselves eventually. The students with the extreme allergies need to be taught to never eat anything that is not from home or approved specifically, and I would think that there can either be a "peanut butter section" for students when they bring it, or a "non-peanut butter section" for those who cannot even be around it (I know that classes often eat together in the younger grades, but in my elementary school, for example, the hot lunch students ate separately from the cold lunch students, based on who had been signed up for hot lunch in a given week). Just my opinion.

Elizabeth B.
Elizabeth B.6 years ago

this is something important. people take it as a joke but in reality many children are hospitalized because of peanuts and some even die.... open your eyes do the research and see for yourself ! how could anyone want a child to go to a school (where yes they should be safe from everything) and have something deadly at their finger tips literally! And Beckyjo many people have died from a milk allergy??......My son almost died from a peanut reaction at the age of 22mo...because my mother in law thought he should try some of her peanut butter cup....oooo how cute.... NO not at all!!! two weeks of scariest moments of my life were in a hospital chair praying for my son...almost lost my apartment b/c his father and i were scared to leave and work when our baby was in intensive care! he's five and in kindergarten.....would you want to take that chance again? people need to stop being selfish! eat it at home so everyones safe!

K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Faith Purdy
Faith Purdy6 years ago

this is a bit rediculous...

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

With the failing economy, the schools are worried about peanut butter? Especially imitation PB? What about using resources to actually do something more proactive in schools?

Val Away G.
Valerie G6 years ago

Thanks Kristina.
Did not know about this...

Pamela C.
Pamela C6 years ago

Carmen n: the other problem i see is about cultural values. The media is brainwashing ppl to make them think studying is boring and school sucks; i dont see that there either. School is more appreciated.

Pamela C.
Pamela C6 years ago

Carmen n: There are many single parents, specially mothers in my homecountry, yet there's still not that bullying at schools. The solution is more discipline, an excuse such as parents cant watch their children bcuz they work?? I mean; thisis about values!! Nobody is getting beaten up at schools there bcuz with more than 2 reproved subjects they have to do the whole year again; they cant just stop showing up st school without a call or note
from the parent(s), and with a too badbehaviour they're kicked out of the school. Now it's up to the parents to teach their children values, and also respect toward their classmates and teachers.
Im simply amazed how you seemed to think ppl dont work there, or simply that it's normal that there are violent gangs in schools, violence is not allowed in schools, or disrespectful behaviour.