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May Contain Nuts

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My eldest is going on school trip. A team building week in Wales. Abseiling, canoeing, hiking. You get the picture.  Sounds great – a whole school week in the countryside. 240 recent entries to high school, fighting with the elements under the eagle eye of their new teachers. Apparently the first task they are set is often the hardest – making their own bed to sleep in.

In the pre-trip deluge of paperwork from the school, in amongst the predictable items – no jewelry, no mobile phones, no MP3 players, I spotted an item that I didn’t expect to see. No food containing nuts.  Apparently 1 in 100 people in the UK have an allergy to peanuts, 1 in 200 for other types of nut.

I’m going to guess there is a piece of legislation. I’m going to guess that the school has a duty of care to ensure that the 2 out of 240 children that have a nut allergy need to be protected. As a parent I might know the obvious foods to look out for. I might, sadly, even remember Frank Muir singing about them. Remember “Everyones a Fruit and Nut Case”? But what about the more subtle risks? There was a medical form to declare allergies, so the school should know which of the children to keep an eye on. But that’s not always possible is it? There are the late night feasts where the chocolate bars may get shared around and the child with the nut allergy may be tired or under peer pressure.

Maybe one solution would be an airline style nut detector scanning the pupils as they get on the bus. Another might be to  make a chemistry lesson of it; testing all the food items for the banned compound. Fortunately, there’s an easier, if less educational way. The experts have done the work for us. They know where the product was made and they know the ingredients that go into it – what’s within the wrapper. They have kindly let us parents know – by adding a label: “May Contain Nuts”.

Business data is the same. The person who wrote the document or the spreadsheet is likely to be the best to understand the contents, and with a business tool like the Boldon James Classifier suite of data classification products, they can apply a label so that the rest of us can understand the sensitivity of the data to business without applying our own litmus tests. In addition, labels added to data at source can be   read by third party scanning devices so that they might add an additional level of protection to the business.

Signs that you are being affected by a nut allergy are your face swelling, feeling sick or a sense of impending doom. All of these symptoms might be exhibited by your CEO when he finds out that a piece of commercially or personally sensitive data has inadvertently left your organisation. So help him now. You never know, he might reward you with a team building weekend in Wales. Just make sure you take Mobile Classifier with you.

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