School bananas ban 'over the top'

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The Independent Online

A council leader says a banana ban enforced at a primary school in Plymouth for two years is "over the top".

Children at Stoke Damerel Primary School have been unable to include the popular snack in their packed lunches since 2007, as one of its staff members has a life-threatening allergy to them.

But after only just learning of the banana boycott, Vivien Pengelly, leader of Plymouth City Council, said she would ask officers to investigate.

Councillor Pengelly said: "This is the first I have heard about this and it does sound a bit over the top to me.

"It's my experience as a headteacher that when there are allergies in a school we encourage children to manage the risk around them. I shall be asking officers to look at this particular case again to see whether anything else might be done."

A spokeswoman for Plymouth City Council said it could not reveal the identity of the staff member involved, due to medical confidentiality.

She said: "A member of the school community has a severe life-threatening allergy to bananas and on the advice of the council, the school has asked pupils not to bring them in.

"These are very unusual circumstances but the school community has been supportive and understanding over the last two years."

But the spokeswoman added the individual involved would be leaving the school in September - when bananas will be welcomed back to the school.

She went on: "We cannot comment on specific individuals because of medical confidentiality. Most people know that individuals can have allergic reactions to substances, with nut allergies being particularly well-known."