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Peanut Allergy Diet

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General Guidelines for Food Allergies

An allergy free diet avoids all food you are allergic to. The food you are allergic to is called an allergen. Even tiny amounts of allergens can be life threatening or cause a significant allergic reaction.

Your child has been diagnosed with an allergy to peanut. Peanut allergy is very common. It is the most common food allergy with 25% of food allergic kids being allergic to peanut. Here is some information you may find helpful in keeping your child safe.

Allergic reactions can be unpredictable, and even very small amounts of peanut can cause a reaction. To prevent a reaction, it is very important that your child avoid peanut and peanut products. Always read food labels to identify peanut ingredients.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA, 2004) is an amendment to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act that requires food makers to list common food allergens on food labels in simple terms. Peanuts are one of the eight major allergens that must be listed on packaged foods sold in the U.S. This means that manufacturers of packaged food items sold in the United States and containing peanut or a peanut-based ingredient must state, in clear language, the presence of peanut in the product. If you do not know what is in the food, do not give it to your child.

Use caution with foods that have “may contain peanut”, “made in a facility”, or “processed with” labels. Manufacturers use special labeling on foods to indicate concerns that peanut could be included unintentionally in a product. Avoidance is the best practice. Levels of “may contain” exposures are not regulated, and in some cases cross-contact during processing could be significant enough to trigger a reaction. There are no specific guidelines regarding what words a company should use or exactly how to assess those risks.

How to Read a Peanut Label for a Peanut Free Diet

AVOID foods that contain any of these ingredients:

  • Peanuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanut flour
  • Peanut powder
  • Peanut starch
  • Arachis oil (another name for peanut oil)
  • Goobers
  • Ground nuts
  • Mixed nuts
  • Nut meat
  • Nut pieces
  • Lupin (or lupine)
  • Monkey nuts
  • Mancelona (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring)
  • Beer nuts
  • Artificial nuts

There are other possible sources of peanut exposure. Use caution and ask questions if it is a food you did not prepare for your child and always double check labels before eating.

  • African, Asian, Indian, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese and other ethnic dishes
  • baked goods, puddings, cookies,
  • ice creams, frozen yogurts
  • candy
  • chocolate candy, candy bars
  • cereals
  • glazes, marinades, sauces
  • alternative nut butters
  • Pet foods

Most people with peanut allergy can safely eat foods with peanut oil or cooked in commercial grade peanut oil (like Chik-fil-A). Commercial grade oils used for deep frying have very low risk. Your child should avoid cold pressed, expressed, or expelled peanut oil.

Most people with peanut allergy can safely eat foods with peanut oil or cooked in commercial grade Ethnic foods, commercially prepared baked goods, and candy can be cross-contaminated with peanuts since peanuts are frequently used in these types of foods.

Some restaurants like Five Guys and Lone Star Steakhouse have peanuts to eat and the shells are dropped on the floor or tables. These types of restaurants are considered higher risk since the dust gets everywhere and could easily then be ingested.

It is unsafe to pick out a “safe” nut from a mixture containing peanuts also.

School and daycare safety situations vary from location to location. It is not always necessary to have peanut free schools, classrooms, or tables for all children. Your child’s school and situation should be discussed with your allergist. A life-threatening management plan and auto injectable epinephrine should be available at all times during and after school.

To safely clean hands after possible peanut exposure, mechanical washing with soap and water is needed. Hand sanitizer makes germ free hands but not peanut free hands.

Some new therapies for peanut allergy treatment are in the research stages. Even with the reported strides that have been made in treating peanut allergy, none of these should be attempted at home unless part of an approved research protocol. Current accepted treatment of peanut allergy is strict avoidance.

Great resources for more information include:

  • - FARE Food Allergy Research and Education
  • - Allergic Living Magazine
  • - Kids with Food Allergies
  • - American College of Allergy. Asthma and Immunology
  • - American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and immunology
  • - Food Allergy Support Group of the Tidewater
  • - Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Connection Team

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.

Reviewed: 09/18

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