The Big 8

Eight foods, or “The Big 8”, account for 90 percent of all food-allergic reactions in the U.S.: peanuts, tree nuts (e.g., walnuts, almonds, cashews, pistachios, pecans), milk, egg, wheat, soy, fish, and shellfish.  Allergy to peanuts appears to be on the rise. One study showed that from 1997 to 2002, the incidence of peanut allergy doubled in children. Peanuts can trigger a severe reaction. The severity of a reaction depends on how sensitive an individual is and the quantity consumed.

Unexpected Sources of Peanuts:

  • Sauces such as chili sauce, hot sauce, pesto, gravy, mole sauce, and salad dressing
  • Cookies, and hot cocoa
  • Egg rolls
  • Potato pancakes
  • Pet foods
  • Gourmet pizzas
  • Asian and Mexican dishes
  • Vegetarian meat substitute products
  • Glazes and marinades

Keep In Mind

  • Some alternative nut butters, such as soy nut butter or sunflower seed butter, are produced on equipment shared with other tree nuts and, in some cases, peanuts.
  • Contact the manufacturer before eating these products.
  • Discuss with your primary doctor or allergist whether to avoid tree nuts. People allergic to peanuts may develop allergies to other foods, including tree nuts. In addition, the chance of a reaction due to cross-contact between peanut and tree nuts during the manufacturing process will be lowered if you avoid them altogether.
  • Ice cream served in ice cream parlors should be avoided; cross-contact occurs frequently because of shared scoops.
  • Sometimes, foods that are supposed to contain almonds or other tree nuts contain peanuts instead.
  • Peanuts go by many names, such as ground nuts, beer nuts, or monkey nuts. Use caution if you are unsure!
  • Studies show that most allergic individuals can safely eat peanut oil (not cold pressed, expelled, or extruded peanut oil – sometimes represented as gourmet oils).
  • If you are allergic to peanuts, ask your doctor whether or not you should avoid peanut oil.
  • Younger siblings of children allergic to peanuts may be at increased risk for allergy to peanuts. Your doctor can provide guidance about testing for siblings.
  • Peanuts can be found in many foods and candies, especially chocolate candy. Check all labels carefully. Contact the manufacturer if you have questions.
  • Peanuts can cause severe allergic reactions. If prescribed, carry TWO auto-injectors at all times.
  • Some companies use peanut hulls in compost, which can be added as top-dressing on lawns. Before you hire a contractor, inquire about the use of peanut hulls in compost so that you can make an informed decision.

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