A new sandwich shop has opened inside the Boston Children’s Museum, and at first glance it seems like the perfect addition to a kid-themed venue. The PB&J Café is brought to you by the Maine-based company - and jam specialists - Stonewall Kitchen.
The menu consists of build-your-own peanut butter sandwiches; toast with jam, jelly, or marmalade; and cream cheese and jelly served on English muffins. So what could possibly be the problem?
As soon as word of the PB&J Café's opening hit the internet, concerned parents swarmed, outraged at the restaurant's - and subsequently the museum's -apparent disregard for children with peanut allergies.
“Most preschools are nut free, schools offer sun butter and nut free alternatives and you take the stand to alienate a group of children who are protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Just because this disability is not seen or obvious it is a life threatening daily disability for so many. Not an inclusive restaurant decision.”
Medical professionals and parents of children with severe nut allergies pointed out that even though food is not allowed out of the cafe and into the museum, all it takes for some children to suffer anaphylaxis is physical contact with a peanut-containing substance.
It is the number one deadly allergy among children, and as all parents know, peanut butter has a way of spreading!
In response to the public outcry, Stonewall Kitchen posted a statement on its Facebook page and shared it on the Boston Children’s Museum’s post.
“We appreciate your concerns about allergens at our recently-opened Stonewall Kitchen Café,” the statement said. “The health and safety of our guests, especially children, is our primary priority. Please be assured that we genuinely understand the gravity that this allergen poses for some children (and adults) and are diligent to follow all regulations and protocols to keep people safe. As a food and restaurant company regulated by the FDA and numerous other agencies, we manufacture and serve products with nearly every major allergen, so we are acutely aware of the risks associated with allergens.”
The company also pointed out that the museum was previously home to an Au Bon Pain and a McDonald’s — “two restaurants which also feature numerous allergens in their menu.”
Additionally, the cafe has its own separate entrance and does not have to be passed through to enter the museum.
“Lastly, we do happily provide alternatives to peanut butter for those desiring sandwiches, including almond butter or jam-only options,” Stonewall wrote.
Still, parents concerned about sticky-handed children inadvertently spreading the danger onto common surfaces, vowed to keep their families away from the museum.
“You can say that there are doors between your place and the restaurant, but it’s not good enough protection for the many, many children who deal with the #1 food allergen,” Michelle Brassens wrote. “There will be countless families who choose not to visit the museum now in order to keep their kids safe.”
"Adding that they have alternatives like almond butter and jam demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of food allergy concerns,” said another mom.
The PB&J Café will also offer clam chowder from Legal Sea Foods along with coffee, tea, and hot chocolate.
What do you make of the Peanut Butter controversy? Should a business like this be allowed to operate out of a children's museum?