Peanut Allergy Information

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Important Things to Know About Peanut Allergies

Peanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies.  Peanuts can cause a severe, potentially fatal, allergic anaphylaxis reaction.  It is advised that those with peanut allergy have quick access to an epinephrine auto-injector such as an EpiPen.  To prevent a reaction, strict avoidance of peanut and peanut products is essential.  It is advised to routinely read ingredient labels to identify peanut ingredients.

An allergy to peanuts appear to be on the rise in children.  According to FARE-funded study, the number of children in the U.S. with peanut allergy has more than tripled between 1997 and 2008.

Peanut allergies tend to be life long, although studies indicate that approximately 20% of children with peanut allergy do eventually outgrow their allergy.  Younger siblings of children allergic to peanuts may be at increased risk for allergy to peanuts.  We can advise you regarding testing for siblings.

Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.), which grown on trees.  Peanuts grow underground and are part of a different plant family, the legumes.  Other examples of legumes include beans, peas, lentils and soybeans.  If you are allergic to peanuts, you do not have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume (including soy) than you would to any other food.

Even trace amounts of peanut can cause an allergic reaction.  Casual contact with peanuts, such as touching peanuts or peanut butter residue, is less likely to trigger a severe reaction.  Casual contact becomes a concern if the area that comes into contact with peanuts then comes into contact with the eyes, nose or mouth.  An example:  a child with peanut allergy gets peanut butter on her/his fingers, and then rubs their eyes.

The federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires that all packaged food products sold in the U.S. that contain peanuts as an ingredient must list the work “Peanut” on the label.  As of this time, the use of advisory labels (such as “May Contain”) on packaged foods in voluntary, and there are no guidelines for their use.  However, the FDA has begun to develop a long-term strategy to help manufacturers use these statements in a clear and consistent manner, so threat consumers with food allergies and their caregivers can be informed as to the potential presence of the eight major allergens.

Avoid feeding your child foods that contain peanuts or any of these ingredients:

  • Artificial nuts
  • Beer nuts
  • Cold pressed, expeller pressed or extruded peanut oil
  • Goobers
  • Ground nuts
  • Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring)
  • Mixed nuts
  • Monkey nuts
  • Nut meat
  • Nut pieces
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanut flour
  • Peanut protein hydrolysate

Peanut is sometimes found in the following:

  • Baked goods (pastries, cookies)
  • Candy (including chocolate candy)
  • Chili
  • Egg rolls
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Marzipan
  • Mole sauce
  • Nougat

Some Unexpected Sources of Peanut (Restaurant foods):

  • African, Asian and Mexican dishes
  • Sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravyh, mople sauce and salad dressing
  • Sweets such as pudding, cookies, baked goods, pies, and hot chocolate
  • Egg rolls
  • Pancakes
  • Specialty pizza
  • Some vegetarian food products, especially those advertised as meat substitutes
  • Foods that contain extruded, cold-pressed or expelled peanut oil, which may contain peanut protein
  • Glazes and marinades

This list does not imply that peanuts are always present in these foods. It is recommended to always read labels and ask questions about foods that you have not prepared yourself.

Keep in mind:

  • The FDA exempts highly refined peanut oil from being labeled as an allergen.  Studies show that most individuals with peanut allergy can safely eat peanut oil (but not cold-pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil).  We can further advise you regarding refined peanut oil.
  • There is a strong possibility of cross-reaction between peanuts and lupine.
  • Arachis oil is peanut oil
  • Sunflower seeds are often produced on equipment shared with peanuts.
  • Some nut butters, such as soy nut butter or sunflower seed butter, are produced on equipment shared with other tree nuts and, in some cases, peanuts.