Feds shelve peanut prohibition

ATLANTA – Aw, nuts!

That’s what the federal government said after realizing it doesn’t have the authority to ban peanuts on airplanes.

“This is great news for all peanut producers, especially those in Georgia,” U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., said in a statement. “We have a long and proud history of peanuts in Georgia, and it has been a privilege to do all I can to protect this vital part of our state’s economy.”

Federal authorities were mulling banning airlines from distributing peanuts as snacks on airplanes, saying the move would benefit people with severe peanut allergies.

The peanut proposal was among a number of consumer protections the U.S. Department of Transportation announced earlier this month. Other proposed protections include increasing the compensation airlines pay to passengers who are involuntarily bumped from flights and a requirement that airlines prominently disclose baggage fees and offer a refund and reimbursement when bags aren’t delivered on time.

However, before the feds institute such a ban, a “peer-reviewed scientific study must be conducted first to determine that there are severe reactions by passengers to peanuts prior to issuing any prohibitive measure regarding peanuts and peanut-products on airplanes,” according to a news release from Bishop. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood informed Bishop in a letter of the decision to postpone the proposal.

“As you know, … no carrier will be required to provide a peanut- restricted area until 90 days after submission to both the Congress and the Secretary of a peer-reviewed scientific study that determines there are severe reactions by passengers,” LaHood wrote in his letter.

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