Peanut Allergy? Shop Smarter

August 01, 2012

Avoiding allergens can be tricky. Find out how to safely avoid peanuts both in stores and restaurants

Shopping with allergies in mind is always a task, especially when we’re hungry, in a rush or want to try something new. There are eight common allergens, and this article covers how to shop to avoid peanuts.

According to the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network, peanut allergy appears to be on the rise. One study showed that from 1997 to 2002, the incidence of peanut allergy doubled in children! Peanuts can trigger a severe reaction. The severity of a reaction depends on individual sensitivity and the quantity consumed.

Although once thought to be a life long allergy, studies have shown that up to twenty percent of kids with a peanut allergy outgrow it. So there is hope! For now here are some tips:

Peanuts can pop up just about anywhere, so here is a list of some unexpected sources. Sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravy, or mole sauce. Even salad dressings, glazes and marinades can occasionally contain peanuts or peanut butter. Treats such as pudding, cookies, marzipan, and hot chocolate might be topped with peanuts or have them in the list of ingredients. Asian and Mexican dishes- especially egg rolls- may contain peanuts. Potato pancakes, some specialty pizzas, vegetarian food products, especially those advertised as meat substitutes may also contain the ground nut. Foods that contain extruded, cold-pressed, or expelled peanut oil, which may contain peanut protein should also be avoided. And for smaller kids or those who are highly allergic to peanuts check the labels on pet food to be sure.

Fortunately, all FDA-regulated manufactured food products that contain peanut as an ingredient are required by US law to list the word “peanut” on the product label.

What to look for on labels? Avoid products that contain peanuts or:
Artificial nuts, beer nuts, cold pressed, expeller pressed, or extruded peanut oil, goobers, ground nuts, mixed nuts, monkey nuts, nut meat, nut pieces, peanut butter, peanut flour, peanut protein hydrolysate and arachis oil.

Peanut allergies in particular can evoke more serious reactions. It is important to read labels for the ingredients listed above, as well as the statement on the label, “produced on shared equipment with peanuts…” Products with this label should also be avoided. To the same tune, ice cream served in an ice cream shop should be avoided; cross-contamination occurs frequently because of shared scoops.

Keep in mind that allergies are individual and it is important to discuss with your physician how to go about testing various foods so that you can find out what works for you. Some with peanut allergies may develop allergies to other foods, including tree nuts.

The information in this article was provided by the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network.