Important Nut Allergy Info!
The cashew is in the cashew botanical family along with mango and pistachio. There has been some research to show a relationship between a cashew allergy and a severe reaction to poison ivy. In fact a teenage friend of ours was told to be mindful of a potential cashew allergy when he went to the ER with a horrible reaction to poison ivy.
An almond is actually in the plum family along with apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach, plum and the prune plum, yet it is considered a tree nut by most allergists. It is definitely possible to be allergic to almond, yet be able to tolerate peaches or the other foods in the botanical family. My son fits into this category.
The pecan is in the walnut botanical family along with the butternut, hickory nut and black and English walnut.
Many people wonder if coconut, nutmeg, water chestnuts and shea nuts are nuts. The coconut is in the palm family, and while it is possible to be allergic to coconut…it doesn’t cross react with tree nuts. Our son tolerates coconut without a problem. Yet coconut has been determined to be a tree nut by the FDA for purposes of labeling! Food that includes coconut will likely have a label stating that the product includes Tree Nuts.
Nutmeg and water chestnuts are not considered nuts either, and there’s no need to stay away from them if you have a nut allergy. The nuts of Shea tree yield a vegetable fat known as shea butter. The trees grow in Africa and provide income for women in the region who pound the nuts. They would be considered a nut, and we stay away from them.
The only “cure” currently for the tree nut allergy is to stay away from all nuts and nut products. Read labels of all the foods that your child eats, and all foods in your house. Read labels each time you purchase a product because manufacturing processes change frequently.
Read all labels to ensure no consumption of Tree nuts!
The Food Allergy Labeling Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) was passed in 2004, requiring: labels to be marked such that a 7 year old could read and understand the ingredients, all allergens are declared even if they are in the spices or flavorings, and curtail the current widespread use of the ‘may contain statements.’ This act went into effect January 1, 2006.
For more information on this important law, please see:
It is safest to avoid all kinds of nuts even if your child is allergic to just one. The processing of nuts in foods lends itself to cross-contamination easily and isn’t worth the risk.
Stay away from all your ‘standard’ tree nuts, which include almonds, cashews, pecans, and walnuts.
Any product that says ‘nuts’ must be avoided. These would include macadamia nuts to name just one. There are many kinds of nuts, so read labels carefully. Remember pistachios are a nut!
In 2006, the FDA classified coconut as a nut; however the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN) does not recognize it as such. If coconut is in a product, the product may state that it contains tree nuts. This is confusing, especially if your child can tolerate coconut but not other tree nuts!
Sometimes cashews are used to make butter (cashew butter), oils or pastes. Stay away from all of these.
Pesto sauce usually includes pine nuts – be careful of homemade recipes where nuts can be used and yet not recognized in sauces, etc.
Your allergist should be able to provide you with a complete listing of ingredients that may indicate nut protein. There are always new products being created with newly processed ingredient names. If you don’t know the exact nature of the ingredient, don’t eat it!
Tree nuts can show up in products that aren’t ingested, but used in lotions and shampoos. Read the labels on these products also. Contact allergies can cause severe reactions also.
When your nut-allergic child goes to school, having things in writing is a must!