Peanut AllergyPeanut allergy is one of the most common food allergies in the United States. Peanut allergy is usually very serious, and potentially fatal. It is usually a lifelong allergy. The most severe reactions require an emergency shot of epinephrine and a trip to the emergency room.
A peanut allergy occurs when the immune system mistakenly interprets the proteins in a product containing peanut as a harmful substance. When a person with this allergy comes in contact (touching, breathing or eating) with peanut, the body produces antibodies to fight the harmful substance, and this triggers an allergic reaction.
The most common reactions include rash (atopic dermatitis), redness and swelling around the mouth, hives (urticaria), asthma, stomachache, cramping, diarrhea or vomiting, asthma, and in extreme cases anaphylaxis. Reactions can occur within minutes or several hours after consuming the allergen.
Peanut Allergy Facts
- Approximately 2% of the U.S. population is allergic to peanut. In my daughter Emma’s kindergarten class, 3 kids out of 23 have peanut allergy.
- The number of children with peanut allergy doubled in a five-year period between 1997 and 2002.
- Peanut cause the most severe food-induced allergic reactions and food allergy related deaths.
- One third of peanut allergic people also have tree nut allergies. Peanut are a member of the pea family.
- Some people with peanut allergy are also allergic to members of the pea family. See botanical Food Families.
- Only about 20% of kids grow out of peanut allergy.
If you suspect you have a peanut allergy, avoid all foods that contain peanuts, and please see a board certified allergist or immunologist as soon as possible. A skin prick test or RAST can confirm the allergy. (Do not use antihistamines for 7-10 days prior to the test.)
Note – If you are nursing a baby and suspect or know the baby has a peanut allergy, do not eat any foods containing peanut. The protein is passed through breast milk. Also, consult with your pediatrician before switching formulas.
Warning – You might read that peanut oil is safe for people with peanut allergy. This is not true. Some people with peanut allergy react adversely to peanut oil, and some don’t. My daughter Emma had a severe reaction after eating French fires fried in peanut oil. Check with your physician before consuming it.
Which Foods and other Products Contain Peanut?
If you have a peanut allergy, please take care to read labels thoroughly. Peanuts can be hidden in a many different products, both food and non-food. Examples include bird seed, medicines, cosmetics, creams, lotions, and ointments, cosmetics, soaps, shampoos, craft materials, conditioners, pet food, vitamins, and more. Always read all labels for foods and personal products. Manufacturers occasionally change recipes and manufacturing processes.
Note - Adopt the rule, “No label, no thank you!” Read the ingredient label every time you purchase a product. The ingredients can change at anytime. When eating out at the house of family or friends, or in a restaurant, do not eat a food if you don’t know the exact ingredients and how it was prepared.
Foods Containing Peanuts
If you have a peanut allergy do not eat these foods.
- Artificial nuts
- Ground nuts
- Mixed nuts
- Peanut butter
- Peanut flour
- Peanut oil (in ANY form)
Foods Likely to Contain Peanuts, Peanut Oils or Trace Amounts of Peanut
Read labels carefully. If you are unsure whether or not the product is safe, call the manufacturer and ask. If there is no label, and you cannot determine the ingredients, do not eat the product.
- Baked goods – bagels, bread, biscuits, cookies, crackers, health bread, pastries
- Candy (all types)
- Curry Paste
- Egg rolls
- Energy bars
- Ethnic dishes (African, Asian, Indonesian, Chinese, Thai, and others)
- Flavor, flavoring
- Food starch
- Frozen yogurt Granola bars
- Hydrolyzed plant and vegetable protein
- Ice cream
- Mixed nuts
- Modified food starch
- Natural or artificial flavor, flavoring
- Protein bars
- Spaghetti sauce
- Vegetarian foods
© 2006 Food Allergy Gourmet, All rights reserved