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My Child has a Nut Allergy. What do I Need to Know?

Peanuts Are Not Tree Nuts

Sneezing, hives, difficulty breathing, or nausea–are all allergy symptoms to peanuts.

According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI), more than 3 million people in the United States report being allergic to peanuts, tree nuts or both, and approximately 1% of the U.S. population has a peanut allergy.  

While people with peanut allergies may think they are allergic to all nuts, including tree nuts, this is actually not the case. Tree nuts are botanically unrelated to the peanut, which is a legume. While an estimated 25 to 35 percent of people with a peanut allergy have sensitivity to tree nuts, as well, the biggest danger to people with a peanut allergy is cross contamination- i.e. food that is manufactured near  equipment that has touched peanuts.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, which took effect in January 2006, requires the top 8 allergens (milk, eggs, shellfish, fish, soybeans, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat) to be listed on food labels by their common or usual name, or by the source of the ingredient.

Additionally, because food companies do not want to be responsible for an unforeseen peanut allergy reaction, many voluntarily place information about peanuts on food labels, such as:

  • "Produced on shared equipment that processes products that contain peanuts"
  • "May contain trace amounts of peanuts".
  • “Produced at a facility that produces peanuts”

Beware... the lack of such a statement on a food product does NOT mean that is free of peanuts!

Red Rabbit Is A Nut-Free Company

We at Red Rabbit have declared our offices and kitchen operations as nut (and peanut) free —so our school partners, kids and parents can rest assured that the food they order from Red Rabbit is not problematic for anyone with a nut allergy—from mild to severe. Our facility is also  free from seeds that may cause allergies such as poppy seeds or sesame seeds. 

What Happens With A Nut Or Peanut Allergy?

An allergic reaction happens when our immune system mistakenly believes that something harmless, such as a tree nut or peanut, is actually harmful. The immune system responds by creating specific antibodies to proteins in that food. These antibodies — called immunoglobulin E (IgE) — are designed to fight off the "invading" proteins.  IgE antibodies trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body. One of these is histamine.  (Think about over the counter medications called “anti-histamines’ such as Benadryl, often given to people who have had a mild allergic reaction of some sort.)  The release of histamine can affect a persons respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract, skin and cardiovascular system, causing allergy symptoms like wheezing, stomach ache, vomiting, itchy hives and swelling.

Possible Reactions

Reactions to nuts and peanuts can be different; it depends on the person and even the same person can react differently at different times.   Most reactions last less than a day and affect any of these four body systems:

  1. Skin. Skin reactions are the most common type of food allergy reactions. They can take the form of itchy, red, bumpy rashes (hives), eczema, or redness and swelling around the mouth or face.
  2. Gastrointestinal system. Symptoms can take the form of belly cramps, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  3. Respiratory system. Symptoms can range from a runny or stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes, and sneezing to the triggering of asthma with coughing and wheezing.
  4. Cardiovascular system. A person may feel lightheaded or faint and lose consciousness.

Precautions for severe allergies

  • Avoid cooked foods you didnt make yourself — or foods with an unknown list of ingredients.
  • Be on the watch for cross-contamination — 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. Consider making your home entirely nut-free.
  • Tell everyone who handles the food you eat, from relatives to restaurant staff, that you have a nut allergy. 
  • Be sure your school knows about your allergy and has an action plan in place for you.
  • Order from Red Rabbit for nut free breakfasts, lunches and snacks 
  • Keep rescue medications (such as epinephrine) accessible at all times — not in your locker, but on you.  Seconds count during an episode of anaphylaxis.

 Outgrowing Allergies

Although some people outgrow certain food allergies over time (like milk, egg, soy and wheat allergies), reactions to peanuts or tree nuts typically persist through life, though some reports show that at least one in five may outgrow peanut allergy.

Prevention

Research has indicated that mothers should wait until a child is at least three years old before introducing peanut products, and do so in tiny amounts at first, especially if there is a history of peanut allergy in the family or if the child has a history of asthma, intestinal orders or skin problems. Also, an infant may react to peanut proteins through breast milk; in this case, the mother should avoid peanut-containing foods until after weaning.

 

Additional Resources

For information about finding an allergist in your area, visit the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) or the American College of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology. For additional information visit The Peanut Free and Nut Free Directoryor the National Peanut Board.

Stay Safe And Healthy, 

The Red Rabbit Team

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