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Published: Wednesday, 6/23/2010

A nutty idea

The flying public takes little comfort in knowing that federal regulators are working hard to ensure their safety - from peanuts.

It's true. As uncomfortable as it is to fly any more, now the U.S. Transportation Department is considering whether to limit or ban outright peanuts as a snack for airline passengers.

With seating becoming more uncomfortable, passengers being charged outrageous fees for everything from blankets to carry-on luggage, and travelers no longer being served a meal on every flight as they could once expect, peanut regulations are hardly an appropriate use of federal administrators' time.

The Transportation Department could instead do more to ensure the safety of the flying public. People, for example, would rather know that the agency is working furiously to prevent the chance for terrorists ever boarding or otherwise destroying an airliner again.

As many as 1.8 million Americans are allergic to peanuts. The reactions range from itching, sneezing, and coughing, to difficulty breathing and even death.

However, people with peanut allergies don't need federal help. They know their limitations and take precautions to protect themselves.

Peanut farmers and industries that package peanuts say the federal agency is being unfair. They are right.

If the federal government bans peanuts on airplanes, what will be next? Will they be forbidden in ballparks, too? Will gasoline stations and snack food stands be told not to sell the legume?

As the Transportation Department gathers comments from the public on this issue, it might consider that for those who are not allergic to them, peanuts are a healthy snack.

And before instituting a blanket ban, the agency might ask people who are allergic to peanuts and still fly what they have done all these decades to protect themselves from peanuts while on an airplane.

Protecting the public from a nonexistent threat will only make federal regulators look like a bunch of goobers.

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