People newly diagnosed with a severe peanut allergy often find that limiting their exposure to products that contain peanuts is more difficult than they expected. Peanut proteins can be found in a surprising number of places, including several non-food items. Here’s a list of some common foods and ingredients that people with peanut allergies should keep an eye out for:
Flavored or artificial nuts: Sometimes, flavored and artificial nuts and nut mixes contain peanuts that have been processed to look and taste like another nut. To make these artificial nuts, de-flavored peanuts are ground into a meal, re-flavored and molded to the shape of another nut, such as a walnut or cashew. These artificial nuts still contain peanut proteins that can cause allergic reactions, so it’s best to avoid them. For more information on how artificial nuts are produced, check out this article from Allergyfreeandsugarfreesnacks.com.
Arachis: Arachis is a genus of plants in the pea family, and Arachis hypogaea, or peanut, is its most well-known species. On some food labels, peanut products are listed as “arachis” rather than “peanut,” so it’s best to check for both words. Arachis oil (peanut oil) is also a common ingredient in foods and non-food products, including some cosmetics. People with peanut allergies should obviously avoid any products that contain these ingredients.
Food additives: Several food additives and preservatives are derived from peanuts and can cause reactions in highly sensitive people. This article by Nicole Evans, M.D. explains the dangers that these additives can pose and includes a helpful list of ingredients to watch out for. Some of the most common peanut-derived food additives are calcium stearate, lecithin, linoleic acid and polysorbates.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of peanut protein hiding places. If ANY exposure puts you at risk, you’ll certainly want to learn much more about this topic and discuss it with your doctor. To get you started, however, we’re inviting others to share their experiences with hidden or unlikely peanut sources in the comments below.