With a peanut or tree nut allergy, even a tiny amount may cause an allergic reaction in some people. Some places you find nuts, like nut butters and nut breads, are not surprising. Others -- like sauces and gravies -- may be.
Once you know what to look for, you can check labels carefully before you buy or use a product.
Nearly a third of people living in the U.S. believe they have a food allergy, according to a recent study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association . But only 5% of children and 4% of teens and adults have true food allergies.
Why do many people think they have a food allergy when they don't?
Experts say it’s because people don’t understand what really constitutes a food allergy and they often misuse the term.
“Unfortunately, the term ‘allergy’ is sometimes used by the public...
If you are allergic to peanuts, you may need to avoid tree nuts like walnuts and almonds. Same goes if you’re allergic to tree nuts -- you may need to avoid peanuts. Ask your doctor to be sure. Tree nuts include:
Common Foods With Nuts
Don't be surprised to find peanuts or tree nuts in foods like these:
Baked goods. Cookies, candy, pastries, piecrusts, and others.
Candy. Chocolate candy especially; also nougat and marzipan.
Other sweets. Ice cream, frozen desserts, puddings, and hot chocolate.
Cereals and granola
Chili and soups. Peanuts or peanut butter are sometimes used as thickeners.
International foods. Nuts are common in African and Asian cooking (especially Thai and Indian); also in Mexican and Mediterranean foods.
Mortadella. This Italian ham may include pistachios.
Sauces. May include hot sauce, pesto, gravy, mole sauce, glazes, or marinades.
Salads and salad dressing
Common Ingredients With Nuts
Avoid these when cooking and look for them on prepared food labels:
Nut butters. Almond, cashew, peanut, and others.
Nut pastes. Includes products like marzipan, almond paste, and nougat.
Nut oils. Includes cold-pressed or expressed peanut oil, and others.
Hydrolyzed plant or vegetable protein. These can have peanuts in them.
Nut extracts, like almond extract.
4 Tips for Avoiding Nuts
Beware of cross-contact. Foods that don't contain peanuts or tree nuts can get contaminated if they are prepared in the same place or using the same equipment. Foods sold in the U.S. must say this on the label. Cross-contamination also occurs in ice cream parlors because of shared scoopers and other equipment.
Check the label each time you buy a product. Manufacturers sometimes change recipes, and a trigger food may be added to the new one.
Look for peanuts outside the kitchen. In addition to foods, nuts can be in lotions, shampoos, and pet food. Check labels before you buy or use them.
Carry an Auvi-Q or Epi-Pen (epinephrine shot). Carry it with you at all times and know how to inject it. For some people, an allergic reaction to nuts can quickly become life-threatening, so always be prepared.