Peanut (Arachis hypogea) is a member of the legume family, which also includes peas, beans, soybeans, lupines, lentils, and fenugreek. Peanut is widely consumed worldwide due to its protein content close to 30% and its versatility. It can be eaten raw, roasted, fried, salted, like peanut butter, oil or flour. (1, 2)
Peanut allergy is recognized as one of the most serious, due to its prevalence, persistence and potential severity of its reaction. Peanut sensitivity appears early in children and typically persists throughout life (1). An estimated 20% of peanut-allergic children outgrow their allergy by school age. However, about 8% of cases may recur after overcoming. (1, 2)
Peanut kernels contain more than 50 different types of proteins, 19 of which have been identified as being responsible for IgE antibody-mediated allergies (2). Its allergenic potential is increased in roasted peanuts compared to fried or boiled (1).
The manifestations of peanut allergy can be very varied from hives, facial swelling, oral allergy syndrome, abdominal pain, asthma to anaphylactic shock, being the most common cause of severe or fatal food-induced anaphylaxis. Trace amounts are often sufficient to trigger a hypersensitivity reaction. (2, 3)
Cross-reaction between peanuts and other foods
Cross-reactions can occur in food allergy, that is, different foods can induce similar allergic responses in the same individual, due to the similarity of their proteins (1,3). In the case of people with peanut allergies, they may also react to other legumes such as lupine, and more rarely soy and peas (1, 2).
A significant proportion of people with peanut allergies also react to nuts, namely hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts and cashews (1, 2, 4). This is due not only to the similarity of their reserve proteins, but also to the frequent sharing of facilities and equipment where cross-contamination occurs (3, 5).
When the diagnosis of peanut allergy is confirmed by the Immunoallergist, the treatment of choice is the total elimination of these foods from the diet (6). Many experts also recommend excluding nuts due to the potential for cross-reaction. (5)
The widespread use of peanuts and peanut products in processed foods requires careful reading of labeling (6).
European legislation requires identification of the presence of peanuts and peanut-based products on the labeling, including highly refined peanut oil, contrary to US legislation which considers the risk of allergy in refined peanut oil to be low, since that its protein content is vestigial, not requiring peanut oil to be highlighted in the labeling. Despite this, experts consider that in cases of high sensitivity to the allergen, peanut oil should also be avoided. (5, 7)
Foods that have or may contain peanuts: (3, 4, 5, 8)
How to identify peanuts on the label:
Peanuts, Peanut Oil, Peanut Flour, Peanut Butter, Artificial Nut Flavor, Natural Flavor, Lecithin (E 322) from Peanuts, Hydrolyzed Peanut Protein, Vegetable Protein, Vegetable Oil, Arachis hypogea (in cosmetics). (5, 6)
Fidu products do not contain peanuts or by-products. We do not handle any ingredient that may be contaminated with peanuts in our facilities. In this way, we guarantee that there is no cross-contamination by traces and that our products are safe even for the most sensitive.
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Important Note: The content of this article is merely informative and should not replace medical indications. If you suspect that you suffer from this type of allergy, you should seek medical advice.
(1) Vieira, RJL da S. (2015). Food Allergens: A Synoptic Study (Universidade Nova de Lisboa).
(2) NDA. (2016). Scientific Opinion on the evaluation of allergenic foods and food ingredients for labeling purposes. EFSA Journal, 12(11).
(3) Carrapatoso, I. (2004). Food groups with greater cross-reactivity: review article. Portuguese Journal of Immunoallergology, XII, 103–113.
(4) Food Standards Agency. (2006). Guidance on Allergen Management and Consumer Information.
(5) Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE). (2015). Your Food Allergy Field Guide.
(6) SPAIC Food Allergy Interest Group, 2017. Food Allergy: Concepts, Advice and Precautions, 1st Edition. Lisbon: Portuguese Society of Allergology and Clinical Immunology with support from Thermo Fisher.
(7) Regulation (EU) No. 1169/2011 of 25 October 2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council of the European Union.
(8) Nunes, M., Barros, R., Moreira, P., Moreira, A., Almeida, M. (2012). Food allergy. Ministry of Education and Science - Directorate-General for Education & Ministry of Health - Directorate-General for Health.