Allergens in the air: peanuts on airplanes
Emma Cook (Hokkaido University)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the embodied complexities of navigating airborne allergens, looking specifically at how different kinds of accountability shape how different types of knowledge are operationalized in efforts to advocate for safe air.
Paper long abstract:
Airborne food allergens are a topic of much debate, concern, and fear in parts of the food allergy community in the UK. Whilst there is scientific consensus that airborne reactions to shellfish and fish proteins can occur due to the release of the allergenic protein when cooking, airborne reactions to peanuts are highly contested. Medical advice asserts that airborne peanut allergies do not culminate in severe allergic reactions. Yet anecdotal evidence suggests that they do occur for some. This has led to increasing calls by parent advocates to ban peanuts on airplanes. Meanwhile, patient advocacy organisations in the UK have maintained, through interaction with their medical advisory boards, that airborne allergic reactions on airplanes are highly unlikely and related more to cross-contact with allergenic proteins left on seats and trays. Peanuts remain, however, an inflammatory topic. Those that add peanut proteins to the air may be understanding and refrain or they may be highly indignant, complaining in some cases that it's against their human rights to be asked not to eat what they want. Some airlines remove peanuts from sale and ask passengers to refrain for the duration of the flight, others have removed passengers - or refused to board passengers - who have disclosed severe allergies to peanuts for fear of reactions and culpability. This paper thus explores the embodied complexities of airborne allergens, looking specifically at how different kinds of accountability shape how different types of knowledge are operationalized in efforts to advocate for safe air.
Adding to the Air