Banning kids from taking cakes and nuts to school or daycare won't necessarily stop kids from breaking out in hives or having an anaphylactic shock, according to parents of children with severe allergies.
Australasian allergy advocate Jackie Nevard, whose 9-year-old son Thai has seven allergies, said the key was educating parents, teachers and kids rather than outright removing one or two foods from lunchboxes.
But more and more education providers were instead resorting to banning foods which caused reactions.
"It seems a simple solution banning food, but because there is like nine main allergens that cause an allergic reaction - banning nuts does nothing for the majority of children because milk, eggs and nuts are the top three allergens and you can't go banning milk and egg," Nevard said.
"If the school has a nut-free ban, that's great for the kids with nut allergies, but they often find they don't often work because there are still nuts being brought into school and then people feel safe and that's not true because there are nuts in schools."
In New Zealand one in 10 children are likely to have a food allergy by 12 months of age.
Nevard, the founder of My Food Allergy Friends and who has authored five children's books to help explain allergies, said schools and daycares were reactive with teachers only being given training in how to use EpiPens and instead needed to be proactive and reduce the chances of an allergic reaction happening.
Encouraging children to wash their hands after eating food so it did not go on something a child with an allergy could then touch, telling them not to share food with kids who have allergies, making them aware of what happen when someone has an allergic reaction and to tell a teacher and including kids with food allergies were much more effective ways of keeping kids safe physically and mentally, she said.
"Kids will think such and such has got a food allergy so they can't come to my birthday party so they never even get invites to birthday parties. It's just explaining to kids that just because someone has a food allergy it doesn't mean they can't go to a birthday party - they take their own food most of the time."
Nevard said if things were not handled well at schools and childcare centres then it could affect the mental health of both the kids and families as they felt excluded.
Nevard is visiting schools and childcare centres in Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga next week to raise awareness around food allergies and how the community can help sufferers safe.
When touching certain foods can bring on hives
Isaac Lane just wants to be like any other kid, but his severe food and environmental allergies mean he has to be extremely careful about what food he eats or even touches.
Touching certain foods can make him break out in hives, while consuming dairy could send him into an anaphylactic shock that could be fatal.
The 5-year-old Hamilton boy has a teacher aide sit with him while he eats lunch at school to make sure he doesn't come in contact with his danger foods that other kids are eating around him. The teacher aide also helps him apply his barrier creams for his eczema and his extensive medical kit which includes an EpiPen is always close by.
Isaac's food allergies include egg, dairy, sesame, kiwi fruit and cashew and pistachio nuts. He also has environmental allergies including dust mites, pollen, grass, cats and dogs which cause his face to come up in a red rash and his eyes to go puffy, red and itchy.
He attends Hukanui School in Chartwell which isn't nut free, but his mother Jocelyn Lane said educating his friends and teachers about how they could keep him safe was far more important than banning certain foods.
It also made the situation less stressful for everyone.
"He wants to be like everyone else. He wants to eat with his friends and him having that confidence that his friends are going to keep him safe," Lane said.
"You don't want to be person who stops having the fun and the kid themself wants to have the fun as well."
When he's invited to a party she calls in advance to find out what colour the icing so she can make him a cake the same colour to take along with his own party food.
She also adapts common recipes such as pancakes, macaroni cheese and pizza with egg and dairy substitutes so he could eat the same.
"It's making him feel part of the family."
Isaac was an unsettled baby who developed severe rashes and didn't sleep much. He was eventually tested for allergies when he was about eight months old after he had a severe reaction and big red welts appeared on his face, hands and arms, his skin was itchy and was screaming in pain.
The skin prick test revealed he was allergic to cheese along with other foods. Within two weeks of removing dairy from his diet, his skin had improved dramatically and he started settling better.
Lane said her one regret is that she listened to a specialist who told her getting him tested for allergies was a waste of time and didn't get him tested earlier.