Peanut Allergy

Peanut allergies are one of the most common food allergies, and just a trace amount of peanut residue can cause a reaction. Allergy symptoms can range from mild (e.g. a rash) to severe (e.g. anaphylaxis, a potentially life-threatening allergic reaction). In cases of allergic reactions, seek medical help immediately.

Pile of peanuts with one peanut broken open.

Peanut Versus Tree Nut Allergies

Peanuts grow underground and are part of the legume family. Legumes belong to a different plant family than tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts. Although peanuts and tree nuts belong to different families, people with peanut allergies are more likely to also be allergic to tree nuts. Also, peanuts and tree nuts often come in contact with each other during processing. For this reason, people who allergic to peanuts are advised to avoid tree nuts, too.

Avoiding Contact with Peanuts

Peanut residue is a major concern when it comes in contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth. In addition to obvious foods, like peanut butter, peanuts may also be found in a variety of unexpected foods. Thus, it is important to always read labels to see if products contain peanuts or were processed with the same equipment as peanut-containing foods.

Also, many restaurants use peanut oil to fry food. Always remember to ask your server before ordering what oil they use and what menu items contain peanuts.

Potential Sources of Peanuts

Other Names and Cross Reactions
Arachis oil
Peanut-Containing Foods
Peanut butter
Peanut oil
Peanut flour
Beer nuts
Peanut protein hydrolysate
Sources You May Not Expect
Baked goods
Chili and soup
Enchilada sauce
Fried fast food
Grain breads
Hot sauce
Ice cream
International foods (African, Asian, etc.)
Meat substitutes
Mole sauce
Salad dressing
Trail mix
Foods Often Processed Near or With Peanuts
Alternative nut butters
Sunflower seeds
Tree nuts

The following foods can be good substitutions for peanut-based products, if they were not processed with or near peanuts.

Alternative Nut Butters
Almond butter
Cashew butter
Soy nut butter
Sunflower butter
Vegetable Oils for Cooking
Grape seed

For more information on peanut allergy, check out the following resources:

Did You Know?

Based on a nationwide telephone survey, peanut allergies in U.S. children have more than tripled between 1997 and 2008. Although some children outgrow them, peanut allergies are usually lifelong.