You'll be surprised by how many unexpected places nuts can hide. If you're allergic to them, food labels can be a huge help in keeping you safe.
The label of any packaged food has to show if it contains milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, or soybeans. Look for the words "Contains: Nuts" or "Contains: Peanuts" on the ingredients list. But there are some other phrases to watch for, such as:
Alternaria. Aspergillus. Cladosporium. Penicillium. Unless you have a special fondness for fungi, you’re probably not too familiar with these or any of the thousands of other common molds.
But if you’re among the estimated 5% of Americans who have mold allergies, you may be all too well acquainted with the itchy eyes, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, skin irritation, and other symptoms mold allergies can cause. Severe mold allergies can even trigger potentially dangerous asthma attacks.
Peanut products, such as peanut flour, peanut starch, and peanut oil (including foods fried in it, unless the oil is purified)
Where Peanuts Hide
They can be lurking in all kids of food products. Some common places you'll see them:
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, which are sometimes used on sundaes
Roasted and fried foods -- like roasted chicken -- may have peanut oil in them
Where Tree Nuts Hide
Like peanuts, tree nuts show up in all kinds of foods. Be especially careful with:
Sauces (like Worcestershire sauce, barbecue sauce, or pesto, which contains pine nuts)
Natural flavorings and extracts
Salad dressings and gravies
They may even be in non-food products like lotions (shea butter, for example) and shampoos.
How to Choose Safe Foods
Stick with packaged and labeled foods. Things that you eat from salad bars, deli counters, and bakeries are more likely to have your allergy triggers in it.
Read labels every time you buy a product. Manufacturers change ingredients all the time. Something that has been safe for you and your family may not always be
Be cautious if you see an ingredient you're not familiar with. Look it up first. Contact the manufacturer if you need more info.
Be careful when you buy a different version of your favorite food. Did you just buy a box that's bigger or smaller than usual? Or maybe picked up a low-fat or reduced-calorie version? Read the label carefully. Sometimes the ingredients are different.
Check labels on medications and toiletries. Allergy triggers can show up in drugs, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, and lotions.
Speak up at restaurants. Let the staff, servers, managers, cooks, or chef know about your food allergy. Don't be afraid to ask how a dish is prepared. Sometimes it can be hard to tell everything that is in a dish based on how it is listed on the menu.