Science Before Legislation

Unless research proves serving peanuts on airplanes harms passengers the snack will not be banned – regardless of public comment on proposed regulations advertised by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Published on: Jun 23, 2010

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Tuesday said serving peanuts on airlines will not be banned unless a peer-reviewed scientific study determines there are severe reactions by passenger to peanuts.

"No carrier will be required to provide a peanut- restricted area until 90 days after submission to both the Congress and the Secretary of a peer-reviewed scientific study that determines there are severe reactions by passengers," LaHood said.

To further add weight to his comments, the DOT on Tuesday issued a clarification to its June 8 notice of proposed rulemaking covering various consumer protection issues, including greater access to air travel for persons with peanut allergies. The formal clarification says DOT will comply with Section 346 of the DOT and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2000, Pub. L. No. 106-69. That is the rule that requires the scientific study and Congressional action.

"This is great news for all peanut producers, especially those in Georgia," U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga.

The law requires that a peer-reviewed scientific study must be conducted first to determine that there are severe reactions by passengers to peanuts prior to issuing any prohibitive measure regarding peanuts and peanut-products on airplanes.

"In my opinion, the DOT's proposed ban on peanut distribution is a solution in search of a non-existent problem, and a solution that could be very costly to the economy in southeast Alabama," U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright, D-Ala. "At the very least, I am pleased that the DOT is taking the proper steps to conduct a study and accept public comment before moving forward. I am confident that the facts and public opinion will be on the side of peanut producers and the thousands of jobs they create."

Georgia Peanut Commission Chairman Armond Morris believes the study should have been done before any such proposal was offered.

"The Department of Transportation has provided no study or scientific research to justify a proposed restriction or ban on peanuts and peanut products," Morris said.

Morris also questioned whether such a ban is the best way to protect the few people who have a peanut allergy.

"A ban on passengers bringing peanut products on-board cannot be enforced and could create a false sense of security if passengers believe they are entering a peanut-free environment," Morris said.