Food and health organisations have made life easier for people who live with food allergies. Here in Canada, the most common food allergies must be labelled on products in a way that’s fast and easy for consumers to understand. However, in a world where every bit of a product is used, labels aren’t always enough. In this series, we’ll look at the most common allergies and some of the less obvious ways you might be exposed.
Studies have shown that early exposure to peanuts can be a factor in avoiding an allergy altogether but once the allergy exists, it can be life-threatening. The risk tends to be greatest in children, but some do outgrow the allergy. Peanuts are legumes and so people often think that a peanut allergy and nut allergy are one in the same. However, only 25-40% of those with a peanut allergy also have a nut allergy. Oddly enough though, a peanut allergy is much less likely to coincide with a legume allergy.
These days, avoiding peanuts is pretty easy. There are guidelines and labels for products that are peanut-free. However, by-products like “hydrolized plant/vegetable protein” can be hiding in processed products that you wouldn’t otherwise associate with peanuts, like dry mixes and flavourings. There is no direct substitute for peanuts, since they’re so distinctive, but chickpeas, soy beans, and seeds are excellent alternatives as long as they’re processed in peanut-free facilities.