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Precautions for Living With Peanut Allergy or Tree Nut Allergy

Precautions for Living With Peanut Allergy or Tree Nut Allergy
  • Nut Free

If allergy testing shows that someone has a peanut or tree nut allergy, a doctor will provide guidelines on what to do. 
The only real way to treat a nut allergy is to avoid peanuts and tree nuts.  Avoiding nuts means more than just not eating them. It also means not eating any foods that might contain tree nuts or peanuts as ingredients. The best way to be sure a food is nut free is to read the label. Check the ingredients list first. 

After checking the ingredients list, look on the label for phrases like these: 
"may contain nuts" 
"produced on shared equipment with nuts or peanuts" 
"produced in a facility that also processes nuts" 

People who are allergic to nuts also have to avoid foods with these statements on the label. Although these foods might not use nut ingredients, the warnings are there to let people know the food may contain traces of nuts. That can happen through something called "cross-contamination," when nuts get into a food product because it is made or served in a place that uses nuts in other foods. Some of the highest-risk foods for people with peanut or tree nut allergy include:
Biscuits and baked goods Even if baked goods don`t contain nut ingredients, it is possible that they came into contact with peanut or tree nuts through cross-contamination. Unless you know exactly what went into a food and where it was made, it`s safest to avoid store-bought or bakery cookies and other baked goods. 

Ice cream Unfortunately, cross-contamination is common in ice creameries because of shared scoops. It`s also a possibility in soft-serve ice cream, custard, or yogurt places because the same dispensing machine is often used for lots of different flavours. Instead, do as you would for candy: Buy tubs of ice cream at the supermarket and be sure they`re made by a large manufacturer and the labels indicate they`re safe. 

Asian, African, and other cuisine African and Asian (especially Thai and Indian) foods often contain peanuts or tree nuts. Mexican and Mediterranean foods may also use nuts, so the risk of cross-contamination is high with these foods. 

Sauces. Many cooks use peanuts or peanut butter to thicken chilli and other sauces. 

Always proceed with caution even if you are used to eating a particular food. Even if you`ve eaten a food in the past, manufacturers sometimes change their processes for example, switching suppliers to a company that uses shared equipment. And two foods that seem the same might also have differences in their manufacturing. 

Here are some other precautions you can take:
Be on the watch for cross-contamination that can happen on kitchen surfaces and utensils everything from knives and cutting boards to the toaster. Make sure the knife another family member used to make peanut butter sandwiches is not used to butter your bread and that nut breads are not toasted in the same toaster you use. You may decide to make your home entirely nut-free. 

Avoid cooked foods you didn`t make yourself anything with an unknown list of ingredients. 

Tell everyone who handles the food you eat, from relatives to restaurant wait staff, that you have a nut allergy. If the manager or owner of a restaurant is uncomfortable about your request for peanut- or nut-free food preparation, don`t eat there. 

Make school lunches and snacks at home where you can control the preparation. 

Be sure your school knows about your allergy and has an action plan in place for you. 

Keep rescue medications (such as epinephrine) accessible at all times not in your locker, but in a pocket, purse, or book bag that`s with you. Seconds count during an episode of anaphylaxis. 
Feedback from Fiona, mother of 2 children with allergies. 

" Hi Kylie.  My 6 year old daughter is anaphylactic to peanuts. Basically I don`t buy food in packets and I bake alot. The dangers are that people unfamiliar with what anaphylaxis really means think that people with allergies need to consume the item to be affected - which is not the case. Now that my daughter is at school I am completely reliant on all parents at the school to follow the school rules to maintain a `nut free` school. If a child has nuts at school and come into contact with my daughter the consequence could be dire." 

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