Australia has a relatively high prevalence of peanut allergy. Almost 3 in every 100 children have a peanut allergy.
Around 20 percent of children grow out of their peanut allergy. Those children who have had more severe allergic reactions including breathing problems are much less likely to outgrow their peanut allergy than children who have experienced milder reactions. Sometimes, peanut allergies to not appear until later in life.
Peanuts (ground nuts) are a legume and therefore from a different botanical family to tree nuts that grow on trees. If you have peanut allergy it’s safer to avoid all nut products. Sometimes peanuts will be stored near tree nuts, processed in the production line with tree nuts or packaged with tree nuts, so cross contamination is a reality. About 30 percent of individuals can be allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts. If you are peanut or tree nut allergic, it is critical to speak with your doctor about the possibility of eating other nuts you have not eaten before.
A downloadable allergen card for those with peanut allergy has been developed to help make shopping a little easier.
The following foods can cause problems when eating out and should be avoided unless the chef can confirm that there is no peanut or tree nut present:
- Chinese and Thai dishes - even soup!
- Baked goods (pastries, cakes, biscuits etc.), and desserts.
- Sauces (eg chilli sauces), toppings and gravy (Peanut sauce has also been used as a secret ingredient for marinating chicken)
- Many butchers and fresh food outlets now have ready-to-cook products such as satay skewers or seasoned foods that contain nuts or nut products. Even rissoles have been found to contain nuts. These allergen-containing foods may very well be sitting next to the plain foods or prepared on the same surfaces. When purchasing these foods, consider asking about the risk of contamination. Gloves may sometimes need to be changed if the shop assistant has served a food containing the allergen prior to serving your food.
¹ Osborne et al. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy
using population-based sampling and predetermined
challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunolol 2011; 127: 668-676