Peanut Butter ‘Deliberately’ Smeared All Over Toronto Playgrounds, Children With Peanut Allergies May Be Target

Parents are voicing their concern over potentially deadly vandalism that has occured at playgrounds around Toronto, Canada. In the latest incident discovered at Dufferin Grove Park, a mother reported that a large amount of peanut butter had been smeared all over the playground equipment. For children with peanut allergies, contact with the smeared peanut butter could have proved fatal. Therefore, the concerned mother who found the peanut butter says that only a sociopath would do something like this and that the allergen was likely placed there on purpose.

The Toronto Star reports that mother Sarah Bolton was with her 2-year-old son at the Dufferin Grove Park on Wednesday morning when she noticed a strange substance all over the playground equipment. Upon further inspection, Bolton noted that the vandal had smeared peanut butter, a known allergen, all over the playground. Bolton says the act was “deliberate” as there was at least three jars of peanut butter used in the potentially fatal vandalism.

The mother notes that only a “sociopath” would do something like this to a children’s playground as peanut allergies are known to be life-threatening.

“It’s just a really scary situation. It would have to take a sociopath to do something like this. You shouldn’t have to worry that someone will maliciously put a very (well)-known allergen (in a place) that kids will play.”

When park officials learned of the peanut butter issue, a crew was sent to thoroughly clean the area. However, it was noted that this is not the first peanut butter cleanup recently. Parks staff have received reports of peanut butter smeared in Carleton Park, Perth Square, and Hillcrest Park, but claim that in each instance, “staff could not locate any peanut butter when they arrived at the park” indicating it had been cleaned up by someone else before they arrived.

According to the National Post, Bolton is a teacher and understands the severity of peanut allergies. Therefore, she posted a bulletin to numerous local parenting groups warning of the danger she discovered at the park. Other parents expressed their outrage as they noted the individual responsible for smearing the peanut butter should be held accountable.

However, local authorities say they cannot open an investigation into the peanut butter vandal until someone calls in and makes a complaint. Currently, the spokesperson for the Toronto Police, Caroline de Kloet, says that no such complaint has been made. She noted that police cannot open a case based simply off of a news report or Facebook comments. Instead, she says someone needs to actually call in and report the incident who was at the park and saw the peanut butter.

“It’s gone viral … but nobody has filed a report saying they were there or they’ve seen it.”

Therefore, de Kloet says any other parent who finds similar vandalism should first call 311 and alert police to the potential criminal activity. Police would then be able to come investigate the claims and park services could be called for cleanup.

One local mother notes that the peanut butter incident should be taken very seriously as no peanut allergy is mild. Shelagh Genevieve Albert says her son has a peanut allergy and that there is always a chance of anaphylaxis.

“(A) peanut allergy is never mild. Even if someone has a mild reaction one time, there is always the possibility of anaphylaxis. My son is allergic, and this is very upsetting to me.”

Dr. Edmond Chan, the division head of the allergy clinic at the BC Children’s Hospital, echoed Albert’s concerns noting that even a small amount of peanut butter can prove deadly to an allergic child.

“(It’s) hard to predict how much peanut would trigger the reaction, so we always warn parents that small amounts could trigger it. If the child touched the play structures, then internalized the peanut somehow – like they didn’t wash their hands and touched the food they ate, rubbed their eye, licked their fingers – they could internalize it.”

[Photo by Woody Upstate/iStockPhoto]