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The only treatment for someone with food allergies is to completely avoid the food they are allergic to. Peanut allergy is one of the top 8 food allergies in the United States.

Peanut allergy can be very dangerous. Peanut protein may be in foods that you don’t expect. Peanuts are often found in Asian foods and candy but may also be in chili, soups, baked goods, marzipan and other sweets. When you eat out, clearly explain your allergy to the manager and wait staff, so the food is not cooked or cross-contaminated with peanuts.

When cooking at home, clean counters, utensils and pans well that have had peanuts in or on them. Cooking with peanuts and removing them does not work because the heat causes peanut protein to seep into the food. For some people who are very allergic, even touching something that had peanuts on it that was not well cleaned will cause a small reaction.

US food manufacturers are required to list ingredients by their common names for the top 8 allergenic foods. The top 8 allergenic foods in the United States are eggs, milk, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

Read labels each time you shop since the ingredients often change without warning. Check and recheck even the “safe” foods you have bought before.

Avoid all foods that are produced on equipment shared with peanuts or other nuts. There is a risk of cross contamination.

Label ingredients which show the presence of peanut protein:

  • Peanuts

  • Peanut flower

  • Mendelonas

  • Mixed nuts/beer nuts/monkey nuts

  • Imitation walnuts

  • Imitation almonds

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein or “groundnuts” (may be made from peanuts)

  • Peanut protein hydrolysate

Ingredients that may show the presence of peanuts:

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein

  • Egg rolls

  • Flavoring, natural or artificial

  • Nougat

  • Chili

  • Chocolate candies

  • Enchilada sauce

  • Marzipan

  • Ground nuts

  • Ethnic dishes

Most people with a peanut allergy may safely eat peanut oil (sometimes called Arachis oil), since it does not contain a large amount of protein. But they cannot eat cold pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil-sometimes referred to as gourmet oils. Talk to your doctor to figure out if you should avoid peanut oil.

Foods You Can Eat

  • Bread

    • Bread products made without peanuts

  • Candies

    • Candy without peanuts or peanut butter

  • Condiments

    • All sugars, honey, jam, jelly and syrups, ketchup, mustard, and salad dressings

  • Desserts

    • Desserts made without peanut protein

  • Fats and Oils

    • All fats and oils, except extruded, cold-pressed or expelled peanut oil

  • Fruits

    • All fruits

  • Meat/Substitutes

    • All meats, soy nut butter

  • Milk, Cheese, Dairy

    • All milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs

  • Potatoes, Rice, and Pasta

    • Potatoes, rice, noodles, macaroni and pasta that is not prepared with peanuts

  • Sauces and Seasonings

    • All spices and herbs

  • Soups

    • Soups without peanuts or peanut butter

  • Vegetables

    • Vegetables prepared without peanuts

Foods to Avoid

  • Breads

    • Any bread, biscuits, doughnuts, muffins, egg rolls, pancakes, pizzas, etc. with peanuts or peanut butter

  • Candies

    • Any candy or candy bar with peanuts or peanut butter or that is made on the same equipment as foods that contain peanuts

  • Desserts

    • Any dessert made with peanuts or peanut products (read labels on store-bought products)

  • Fats and Oils

    • Extruded, cold-pressed or expelled peanut oil

    • Cross contaminated oil at restaurant or home where foods that contain peanuts were fried

  • Fruits

    • Fruit cake with nuts

    • Dried fruit with nuts

  • Meat/Substitutes

    • Chinese, Thai foods and other Asian foods prepared with peanuts

    • Peanut and other nut butters

    • Egg rolls

    • Peanuts, mandelonas, and tree nuts

  • Milk, Cheese, Dairy

    • Any flavored yogurts that contain peanuts or cross contamination with nuts

  • Potatoes, Rice, and Pasta

    • Asian noodles cooked with peanuts

  • Sauces and Seasonings

    • None

  • Soups

    • Soups prepared with peanut butter, some chilies or stews

  • Condiments

    • Glazes or marinades, some chili or hot sauces, mole sauces, pesto or salad dressings that contain peanut protein

  • Vegetables

    • Deep fried vegetables cross contaminated with peanut protein

Cautions and Tips

  • You should always have medicines with you to stop a serious allergic reaction.

  • Peanuts are not true nuts; they are legumes. Some people also must avoid other foods in the legume family (soybeans, peas, and garbanzo (chickpea) beans.

  • Beware of store-bought nuts. Peanuts, which are de-flavored, re-flavored and pressed, can be sold as imitation almonds, walnuts or other nuts.

  • Seeds and other products are often processed at the same place as peanuts or tree nuts. If you are unsure and the label doesn’t state this, call the food company to be sure. Examples include M & M® candies or Jelly Belly® jelly beans.

Tips to Prevent an Allergic Reaction

  • Avoid foods that cause a reaction. Sometimes just touching foods can cause a reaction. Wash hands often.

  • Read the ingredients lists on food labels to make sure peanuts are not present. Read the list even if you have had the product before. Ingredients may change.

  • When you travel bring along some of your own foods.

  • When you eat out, always ask restaurant staff about ingredients in food and how it was prepared. Cooking oils can have allergens.

Recipes


Other Resources

Books

  • Batson, Bridget. Jude the Dude: The Peanut Allergy Kid. 2011.

  • Recob, Amy. The Bugabees. 2009.

Who to Call

If you have more questions, please contact UW Health at one of the phone numbers listed below. You can also visit our website at www.uwhealth.org/nutrition

Nutrition clinics for UW Hospital and Clinics (UWHC) and American Family Children’s Hospital (AFCH) can be reached at: (608) 890-5500.

Nutrition clinics for UW Medical Foundation (UWMF) can be reached at: (608) 287-2770