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Nut Allergies: Spotting Problems on Food Labels

With a food allergy, it’s always important for you to know what you’re eating. Reading labels is your best way to stay safe. Here are some tips and tricks to make it work for you.

Any packaged food has to show on the label if it contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans. Look on the food label -- "Contains: Nuts" or "Contains: Peanuts" -- on the ingredients list.

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Nutty Words to Watch For

  • Artificial nuts
  • Nuts of any sort
  • Nut butters and oils
  • Peanut products, such as peanut flour, peanut starch, and peanut oil (including foods fried in it, unless the oil is purified)

Where Peanuts Hide

  • Many processed foods like ice cream, snack foods, biscuits, baked goods, and candy
  • Ethnic food including African, Chinese, Indonesian, Mexican, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine, to name a few
  • Many flavorings, thickeners, and sauces. Even artificial nuts -- used on sundaes
  • Roasted and fried foods -- like roasted chicken -- may have peanut oil in them

Where Tree Nuts Hide

Like peanuts, tree nuts can be hidden in many foods. They may even be in non-food products like lotions (shea butter, for example) and shampoos.

Be especially careful with:

  • Sauces (like Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, or pesto, which contains pine nuts)
  • Natural flavorings and extracts
  • Salad dressing, and gravies

See the list above under peanut allergies for other places tree nuts may be found.

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