You Be the Judge: Was I Wrong for Not Labeling My Lunch Had Peanuts?


Here’s a scenario many of you have faced: You bring your lunch to work only to find it missing from the breakroom fridge at lunchtime knowing full well one of your coworkers — probably Joe from accounting — made off with it.

For a person coping with food allergies, the problem is compounded because there may not be safe options available near work that they can run out and purchase.

But what if the problem is reversed and the culprit is the one with food allergies?

That brings us to this installment of our You Be the Judge series, where we present a food allergy-related scenario and invite you to weigh in and share your opinions.

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This time, we look at a situation gleaned from a reddit post entitled “Am I wrong for putting peanuts in my food and not putting an allergen label on it, knowing that the food thief is allergic?” by user u/One_Newspaper5657.

We’ve referred to the “AITA” subreddit (i.e. group) before where this story is posted. AITA is short for “Am I the A-Hole,” and it provides a medium where people question their own behavior and ask readers to vote.

Here’s her story:

So, my office recently got a new hire, Omar. He’s a young Muslim guy, fresh out of college, and ever since he was onboarded, my food has been going missing. I mention his religion because I’m also Muslim and it’s hard to find Halal food on short notice, and it’s been really difficult not having food to eat because it’s been stolen. My theory is that he stole my food because I’m the only obviously Muslim one in the office (I wear a hijab and have mentioned going to mosque), and he knows that my food is ok to eat. I’ve tried talking to him about this, but he always plays dumb and denies knowing anything about my missing meals. As the title says, Omar is allergic to peanuts.

On Friday, I brought leftovers which included Peanuts. I made sure to label the package clearly with my name, but I didn’t think to include any label about it having peanuts in it. No one else in the office uses allergen labels for their food; it didn’t even cross my mind.

When I got to the fridge and realized my food was once again missing, I rushed to Omar’s desk where I of course found him eating my food, and I told him that the lunch that he stole had peanuts in it. His eyes got really wide and he went for his epipen, and thank goodness he injected himself before the reaction got really bad.

After Omar got done panicking about his reaction, he blew up at me. He said that I could have killed him, and I said that he wouldn’t have been in danger if he wasn’t a liar and a thief. He told me that it was my fault for not putting an allergen label on the packaging, and I said that I’m lactose intolerant, but I don’t expect everyone to put labels on their dairy because I don’t steal other people’s food! He said that that’s different because milk won’t kill me, and I said it was the same principle. HR has ruled in my favor, but now requires allergen labels on all foods, and the entire office is mad at me, not just for the inconvenience of the labels, but because I “targeted” Omar and “tried to kill him”. Now I feel bad, am I in the wrong here?

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At this writing her post has received over 23,000 ‘upvotes’, meaning tens of thousands of readers found the story compelling.

So now we turn to you, our readers, who know a thing or two about food allergies in the real world, and ask you to be the judge. Was the poster in the wrong?

Let us know in the comments section below.

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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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  1. How is this even a question? Omar is responsible for his own food allergies and should not be eating food without knowing the ingredients, never mind pilfering food from colleagues. If she intentionally brought in food with peanuts to teach him a lesson, that’s not at all OK, but it still falls on Omar to take care of himself. She’s not offering him allergen-laced foods and lying about it. Also, how rude is it to steal other people’s food? She says HR ruled in her favor, but I think there should have been a reprimand for the thief.

    • This 100%! And HR making everyone label their personal food is ridiculous. That just says the stealing is ok.

  2. Omar should’ve been fired. Stealing in the workplace should not be tolerated.

    If she did target him by deliberately putting peanuts in her food, she certainly should be reprimanded. He could bring charges if he wanted but unless she admits to something, he’s out of luck.

  3. This is ridiculous! Taking someone else’s food with their name on it is STEALING!!! No one should have to lable their food because they are the only one eating it and they know what is in there own food. Omar should he let go for repeatedly STEALING someone else’s food.

  4. How is this a thing?! Pack your own lunch! If someone took my daughters meal, she would go hungry as she cannot order food or eat out on a whim. Jeez

  5. You are not responsible for protecting a thief. Omar is a petty thief who is not very bright if he has known allergies and eats other peoples food without even knowing the ingredients.

  6. This is just a bad situation. Yes he shouldn’t be stealing but she knew he was and knew he would have stolen this. She probably should have brought the stealing of the lunch up to HR or a boss after she told him not to do it and he didn’t listen. He should have been fired before this was an issue.

  7. I am very sorry that your workplace seems to have problems that I solve in elementary school every day. We have a no food sharing policy because there are so many food allergies in our building. We teach 5-11 year old children to eat only what they bring or are sold in our cafeteria.

    If your lunch was labeled with your name, that’s all that’s necessary for identification. If someone else takes what isn’t theirs, especially as an adult, then the problem lies with them. Someone without a food allergy can choose to bring whatever they wish in their lunch. Someone WITH a food allergy should always bring their own, safe foods to eat.

    If everyone has to label their lunches now, everyone should probably just put their name and state it may contain one of the top 9 allergens.


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