How Allergy Warnings Are Actually Hurting Immune Health On Campus: The Coddling of the American Digestive System

Note: Yes this is satire! If you haven’t seen this article yet, you might want to: How Trigger Warnings Are Actually Hurting Mental Health On Campus. Here’s what it might look like if we treated physical health the same way:

Something strange is happening at America’s colleges and universities. A movement is arising, undirected and driven largely by students, to scrub dining halls clear of any foods and beverages which might cause physical discomfort or illness (or at least accurately label them, which is basically the same thing).

The whole “allergy warning” thing started off as a well-intentioned way to help people with legitimate medical conditions like peanut allergies. I believe that those are a real thing because once in middle school, I saw a kid go into shock after eating brownies with peanuts. Also, no one likes the brownies with nuts.

But these days, oversensitive label activists have taken it way too far and started putting allergy warnings on every little thing like eggs, and dairy, and wheat. I mean come on, who could be allergic to bread? Everyone likes bread!

Even culinary classics are not exempt from this form of overprotective nitpicking censorship: now spaghetti sauce is labeled as “may contain tree nuts” and french fries “contain trace amounts of soy.

But what about the detrimental effects that these labels can have on today’s weak-stomached youth. I read in a Wikipedia article that immune tolerance is developed by repeated exposure to unfamiliar substances, so avoiding any substance must be a bad thing. (When some kid told me that his doctor was more qualified than me to help him monitor his level of lactose intake on an individual basis, I suggested that he get himself a good FroYo to get out of that whiny mood.)

The omnipresence of allergy warnings gives students the constant expectation of food danger, which can only intensify the effects of their already overreactive immune systems. I say if you’re gonna have a negative reaction to something, it’s better if it’s a surprise.

“Actually, I just need to know when I should get a soy milk replacement or take Lactaid,” protested the anti-milk kid. “Warning labels allow me to eat more things.”

Come on kid, can’t you just take a snack?

Millennials these days feel entitled to protection from any form of discomfort, be it cramps, hives, restricted breathing, or a slow erosion of the intestinal lining. But how will that serve them when they’re out in the real world of food trucks and hot dog stands with inevitably low nutritional and sanitation standards? Since perfect safety is impossible, the only way to prepare for adulthood is to bite fearlessly into whatever comes your way.


8 thoughts on “How Allergy Warnings Are Actually Hurting Immune Health On Campus: The Coddling of the American Digestive System

  1. I apologize in advance if my comments are seen as argumentative… it is not my intention, but the issue of food – and warning labels – is very dear to me.
    I’m sorry, but I disagree. I think it’s amazing that students are taking initiative to monitor what is going into their mouths. In this day and age there are so many things that are out of our control, but what we put into our body though our digestive system happens to be one of the few things left in which we have a choice.
    While I have no food allergies (that I know of), I am very meticulous about what I eat. I’m not obnoxious about it, just if there’s no clear label listing the ingredients I won’t eat it. No tantrums, no fuss, no complaining – it just doesn’t go in my mouth. Even while not having allergies, there are some ingredients that I’ll avoid at all cost. Soy, for example, is often genetically modified, and not proven to be safe for consumption, not to mention that it can screw up hormones. Corn, which is in many, many food products (not to mention all the products derived from it) is also genetically modified, and something that I think we have a right to avoid eating. It is extremely hard finding processed food in conventional supermarkets (meaning, not “health food” stores) that does not contain either soy or corn, so I do believe the labeling helps people be aware of this fact.
    While I know french fries are hardly a health food, I’d be really aggravated if I decided to indulge in a rare treat of some fries (which should just consist of potatoes and oil used to fry them), and was not warned that they may also contain soy.
    My only gripe is that the warning labels do not warn about even more things! For example, the picture included above lists “natural and artificial flavor” along with the ingredients that were singled out to be warned against. These ingredients are so harmful, and many people remain unaware. It is actually quite sad.
    Anyway, once again, no disrespect meant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No offense taken–but I think you misunderstood the intent of the piece. This was a satire of some recent articles about trigger warnings on college texts (particularly the one from The Atlantic, which I linked to at the top of the post). I agree with what you’re saying about food labels–that they’re useful for helping some people control their health needs (and don’t majorly inconvenience anyone)–and I think the same can be said about trigger warnings.

      Sorry if it came across as actually obnoxious instead of fake obnoxious 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What the fuck is this bullshit? Allergies and triggers are completely real things. Just because you don’t experience food allergies doesn’t mean other people don’t.


    • Yes that’s the point 🙂 The original article was trivializing mental health concerns, and this satire piece was intended how ridiculous this approach sounds when you apply it to physical health concerns as well. In all seriousness I respect both allergy and trigger warnings.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good satire !
    But, I too needed to read too far to ‘get’ it.
    Please consider moving the note ” (yes, this is satire):” higher up, and making it prominent.
    We ENJOY and APPRECIATE the piece much more when we read it as satire from the start.
    Just my $0.02 — thanks for the post !

    Liked by 1 person

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