Banning Peanuts From Airlines
The Department of Transportation (DOT) has considered several times a ban of peanuts on airplanes. The Air Carrier Access Act prohibits discrimination by airlines against passengers with disabilities (a human rights issue), and DOT agrees that passengers with severe peanut allergies qualify as disabled because the condition limits a major life activity, in this case, flying. Of food allergens, peanuts and tree nuts cause more than 90% of fatalities and have a high rate of symptoms from minimal contact, such as traces of peanut on flight attendants’ hands or on other surfaces.
DOT previously asked for guidance on this subject in 1998, but was directed by Congress to stop its activities or face a cutoff of funding for its Aviation Enforcement Office. To ensure no further action could be taken, the DOT and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2000 was enacted, and section 346 states that none of the funds made available under that Act may be used to require or even suggest that airlines provide peanut-free buffer zones or otherwise restrict the distribution of peanuts. Despite this and to its credit, DOT solicited comments on the proposed ban, a step which the food allergic community truly appreciates.
The Georgia Peanut Commission opposes the ban, as do elected U.S. representatives from peanut producing States. The Department of Transportation's efforts were effectively shut down in 1998, and unfortunately, this happened again.
The way around this is simple: Airline representatives have stated to the press that they will defer to the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) on the peanut ban issue, and the ATA indicated that they are formulating a position. This petition is in support of the proposed ban of peanuts from airplanes and will be directed to Congress, the Department of Transportation, and the Air Transport Association.
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