Peanut allergy is very common, especially in children, young adults and certain ethnic groups. Peanut allergy symptoms can vary from a minor irritation to a life-threatening reaction. For some people even tiny amounts of peanuts can cause a severe, potentially fatal, allergic attack (anaphylaxis). To prevent a reaction, strict avoidance of peanut and peanut derivatives is essential and therefore highly recommended by allergists. Cross-contamination with trace amounts of peanut may also cause an allergic reaction. Make sure you read product labels carefully. Always ask restaurant employees to identify peanut ingredients. Communication is the key for ensuring a safe, enjoyable allergen free meal. Use our “Food Allergy Translate App” or your “Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards” to gain better understanding! Avoid products and dishes that contain peanut. Also avoid food and products that do not have a proper ingredient list or you cannot understand ingredients before ordering.
It is important to test your sensitivity even after a minor reaction to peanuts is recognized. If you or your child has had only a mild allergic reaction in the past, the risk remains to a more serious future attack.
Researches show that allergy to peanuts is still rising. In many countries the number of children with peanut allergy tripled between 1997 and 2008. Studies in the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, United States have also showed a high prevalence of peanut allergy in children. Scientists do not have clear answers to why peanut allergy seems to have increased so rapidly in recent years at any age. In the past, it was thought that all peanut allergies were lifelong, although recent studies indicate that the minority of children with peanut allergy do eventually outgrow their allergies.
Important: Peanuts are part of a plant family, called legumes (so peanuts are not the same as tree nuts: almonds, cashews, hazelnut, pistachios, walnuts, etc., which grow on trees). Peanuts grow underground. Other examples of legumes include beans, peas, lentils and a common allergen: soybeans. If you are allergic to peanuts, you may be allergic to soy as well. According to studies, around 25-40% of people who have peanut allergy are also allergic to soy and tree nuts. In addition, peanuts and tree nuts are often manufactured and served together. For these reasons, allergists usually tell their patients with peanut allergy to avoid tree nuts or test whether you are allergic or not.
If you do not recognize an ingredient or there is no ingredient list available, simply avoid the product. Ask questions about ingredients before eating a food that you have not prepared yourself.
Many countries require that all packaged food products sold in food stores that contain peanut as an ingredient must list the word “Peanut” on the labels. However this is not the case in Asia, Mexico, Middle-East or Africa. Many restaurants are especially not following such guidelines and no long-term solutions exist for informing guests with food allergies about the potential presence of the nine major allergens. Do not let that eating out becomes one of your top concerns.
Many food service establishments are considered high-risk for individuals with peanut allergy due to the common use of peanut and peanut derivatives, therefore the risk of cross-contact is significant even if you order a peanut-free item. These include African, Asian (especially Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Thai and Vietnamese) and Mexican restaurants, bakeries, ice cream shops, etc. Be careful with ethnic foods, such as satay, curries, spring rolls or Chinese Szechuan sauce, egg rolls, etc. These contain or often contain peanut or peanut oils.
With clear communication food allergies can be effectively managed!
According to experts and allergist the most effective and therefore best way to manage a food allergy is total avoidance. Novel solutions of communication seem to be a proven treatment for food allergies. Our Food Allergy Translate tools are contribution strategies to minimize your risk of accidents.
Reduce your risk dramatically by using our Food Allergy Translate App or Personal Food Allergy Translate Cards to communicate your allergy alert in a foreign language.
Let the food service personnel know of your food allergy in advance. At least they should take extra care in preparing your meal!
Be prepared to communicate your needs in any restaurants. Let the restaurant/catering staff informed for avoiding the potential presence of the nine major allergens.
Grundy J, Matthews S, Bateman B,: Rising prevalence of allergy to peanut in children;
National Institutes of Health, NIAID Allergy Statistics;
National Report of the Expert Panel on Food Allergy Research, NIH-NIAID 2003;
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), Tree Nut Allergy;
Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004;
Stanford Alliance for Food Allergy Research (SAFAR). California 2013;
Fleischer DM: The natural history of peanut and tree nut allergy)