SAVANNAH, Ga. — Federal regulators are considering a snack attack on the nation's airlines that would restrict or even completely ban serving peanuts on commercial flights.
Advocates say the move would ease fears and potential harm to an estimated 1.8 million Americans who suffer from peanut allergies. Peanut farmers and food packagers, however, see it as overreaching and unfair to their legume.
"The peanut is such a great snack and such an American snack," says Martin Kanan, CEO of the King Nut Companies, an Ohio company that packages the peanuts served by most U.S. airlines. "What's next? Is it banning peanuts in ballparks?"
Twelve years after Congress ordered it to back off peanuts, the U.S. Transportation Department gave notice last week that it's gathering feedback from allergy sufferers, medical experts, the food industry and the public on whether to ban or restrict in-flight peanuts.
The peanut proposals were listed in an 84-page document including several other proposed consumer protections for air travelers. Three options were given: banning serving of peanuts on all planes; prohibiting peanuts only when an allergic passenger requests it in advance; or requiring an undefined "peanut-free zone" flight when a passenger asks for one.