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Nuts & Allergy

I have a specific nut allergy, but can safely eat other nuts. Where can I buy nuts in-shell, or nuts that have not come in contact with other nuts?

Immunologists and allergy specialists often recommend that some people with allergens to one nut or certain nuts, continue to eat the nuts that they are not allergic to, as there is some evidence to suggest that this may be helpful. Remember to check with your allergy specialist if you are unsure.

For those who can safely eat certain types of nuts, it’s important to ensure that there is no cross contact with other nuts. If cross contact can be completely avoided, such as where nuts are in their shell, or where the grower can guarantee the nut has not come into contact with any other nut, they are deemed safe to consume.

The link below directs you to a list of nut growers/suppliers that either only grow one type of nut, sell nuts in-shell, or are able to guarantee no cross contact with other nuts. Please ensure that you check this list regularly, as we continually update this list as information changes and as more information is obtained.

What other ingredients contain nuts that I may not be aware of?

Nuts can be hidden in foods and cosmetics such as nut oils, nut essences or as nut flours. It is essential to check the ingredients of all foods every time you purchase them in case ingredient changes have been made since the last time you purchased it.

Examples of foods in which nuts can be hidden:

  • African, Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, Mexican and Vietnamese dishes (which often contain nuts or come into contact with nuts during meal preparation)
  • Crushed nuts in sauces
  • Certain chocolates, particularly hazelnut pralines or nuts coated in chocolate
  • Cakes may contain a nut essence or nut flours
  • Pesto (an Italian sauce made with nuts)
  • Nut butters and spreads
  • All cakes and pastries with unknown ingredients, particularly carrot cake, pumpkin cake or pie, and fruit and nut rolls
  • Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavouring)
  • Bouillon and Worcestershire sauce
  • Praline and nougat
  • Muesli and fruited breakfast cereals
  • Vegetarian dishes
  • Health food/ muesli/ nut bars
  • Artificial nuts (which could be nuts that have been deflavoured and reflavoured with another nut, such as pecan or walnut)
  • Marzipan (a paste made from ground almonds and sugar)
  • Gravy
  • Coated popcorn which may contain nut oil
  • Some ice cream toppings contain chopped nuts
  • Prepared salads and salad dressings
  • Foods bought in a bakery or delicatessen (where there is more risk of contamination; no ingredients label and foods are often unwrapped).

Other products that may pose a risk include:

  • Certain cosmetic items such as lipsticks and lip balms, bath oils or similar products
  • Some skin creams, including those for eczema, may contain nut oils - as these can be absorbed through the skin which may cause a reaction in highly sensitive people.

Last Update July 2016

Where can I buy guaranteed nut-free products?

Several products are manufactured without nuts as ingredients and in facilities where nuts are not handled. Whilst it is recommended that you be extra vigilant when reading product labels, extra re-assurance can be gained by contacting the manufacturer directly.

In addition, some manufacturers produce food specifically for the nut-free market. It is also worthwhile contacting these manufacturers and asking them about their production process to ensure no possible traces of nuts can enter the supply chain.

For those who can eat certain nut types while needing to avoid others, it is worth buying permitted nuts in their shell (where possible), or making contact with growers directly to avoid cross contamination.

Dietitians associated with allergy clinics may be able to recommend specialist nut-free products, and it is advisable to join an allergy support network such as Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia to seek recommendations from other members. Dietitians specialising in food allergy can be found through the Dietitians Association of Australia, or Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy,

Last Update July 2016

Why do many food product labels now say “May contain traces of nuts”?

The Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code 1.2.3 “Mandatory Warning and Advisory Statements and Declarations” was gazetted in December 2002. This Standard stipulates that where any of the nine key food allergens, including peanuts and tree nuts are added to a food, it must appear on the label. Labels must appear when the allergic substances are knowingly added to food as ingredients, components of ingredients or processing aids and food additives.

In addition to this labelling, many food manufacturers choose to highlight the risk of accidental cross-contact between products containing allergens and products that do not contain allergens, sometimes using statements such as “Made on the same line as products that contain nuts” or “May contain traces of nuts”.

Last Update July 2016

If I suspect that I or my child has a nut allergy, who should I seek advice from?

Your family doctor should be able to refer you to an allergy specialist or allergy clinic. Avoid going to alternative practitioners for allergy advice.

Last Update July 2016

What should I do if my child has a reaction to eating nuts?

Most reactions to nuts are either mild or moderately severe, involving reactions such as abdominal pain, itchy throat, sneezing, or hives. However, if your child is having trouble breathing or passes out, call 000 immediately. Have your child lie down with their feet elevated to reduce the risk of shock until the paramedics arrive.

If your child has been diagnosed with a nut allergy and you have an anaphylactic kit, give your child an injection of epinephrine (adrenaline) immediately. When you receive your anaphylactic kit it is very important that all family members and close friends receive training and familiarise themselves with the safe response procedure prior to when you need to use it.

Even if your child recovers quickly and seems to be normal, seek medical attention immediately. A secondary reaction may occur hours after the initial reaction. Additional doses of adrenalin can be given if required.

Last Update July 2016

If I have a nut allergy is there another way to get all the nutrition that nuts contain so I’m not missing out?

A balanced diet will give you the nutrients you need to maintain your health and wellbeing. By excluding nuts and products that contain nuts you may need to pay extra attention to the foods that make up your daily diet. If you believe you may be missing essential nutrients as a result of dietary restrictions, you can consult your doctor or local Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD). See to find your local APD.

Last Update July 2016

If I have a nut allergy can I still eat out at restaurants and have takeaways?

Provided you take a few precautions, you can still enjoy restaurant meals or takeaways even if you have nut allergies. Do not rely on menu descriptions alone when ordering - ask questions about ingredients and how the meal is prepared to lower your risk of an allergic reaction. Also try to avoid restaurants that are likely to use nuts in several dishes, for example, Thai and Indian restaurants. You might be uncomfortable making special requests at restaurants, especially if the service staff are overextended. Discomfort in speaking up about food allergies is the most common reason people have allergic reactions when dining out.

Contact the restaurant you plan to visit in advance to advise them that you have a food allergy. Talk to the manager about dishes to be avoided and ask them to advise the chef so they can take extra care in preparing your meal to avoid cross contamination. Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia have developed chef cards that can be given to the manager or chef to inform them of your allergy

As a final check for adults and teenagers, cautiously touch test a small amount of food on your outer lip – if warnings such as burning, tingling or swelling occur, then the food is likely to contain the food allergen.

Last Update July 2016

If I have a nut allergy can I eat a small amount of nuts and be OK?

No. Even very small amounts of a nut can lead to allergic reactions in susceptible people. As subsequent reactions can sometimes be much more severe than previous reactions, total avoidance of the nut(s) in question is advised.

Last Update July 2016

If you are allergic to one nut do you have to avoid all nuts?

If you have a known allergy to one type of nut, it is recommended that you avoid all nuts until you have been cleared of other nut allergies through carefully controlled and administered medical food challenge tests.

For individuals with a tree nut and/or peanut allergy under the care of an allergy specialist, advice may vary as to whether you need to avoid all nuts or only specific nuts. This decision can be a complex clinical one based on the age of the patient, history of past reactions, co-existing medical conditions and results of oral food challenges.

If cross contact can be completely avoided, such as where nuts are in their shell, they may be deemed safe to consume provided there is no allergy to that specific nut.

Last Update October 2016