cross-contamination with tree nuts? - Peanut Allergy Information

cross-contamination with tree nuts?

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Hi everyone. Since first posting on this site in a tizzy about a week ago, my PA son has had both his blood and scratch tests and I finally feel pretty confident that we know what we're dealing with. I've also got our EpiPen Jr.s safely in hand so I'm not spending nearly so much time crying all over my husband about how my poor baby could've died because our pediatrician was stupid... but that's a whole 'nother story!

Isaac's scratch test for tree nuts was negative, and the allergist said he didn't feel that they would be a problem. Now I'm reading all kinds of back posts here and seeing numerous references to "cross-contamination" with tree nuts. Can someone please explain this to me?

Believe you me, I'm not going to feed Isaac a big handful of nuts any time soon. And given the severity of his allergy I am sure as heck not going to feed him anything that even has the possibility of containing peanuts. But now that I'm becoming an obsessed label-reader I've discovered that there are a lot of cereals in my pantry with almond meal in them. Do we really need to forego that morning bowl of cheerios??

Thanks for any help!


On Feb 17, 2001

Hi Mir - I'm in exactly the same situation you are. Cayley only has PA, no tree nut allergies at all. I used to bake muffins with pecans or walnuts and give them to her, and she always ate Honey Nut Cheerios (almonds).

Since the diagnosis with PA, I don't feel comfortable giving her tree nuts anymore, even though I probably don't have to worry about it. A favourite scratch cake I used to make contains almond extract, now I can't bring myself to make that cake anymore!

I just worry that she has the potential to develop other food allergies, since she already has 2 (mild milk allergy also). I keep her away from all nuts. I have no idea if I'm doing the right thing, but it feels like the right thing for me!

Once you've lived with the PA situation a little longer, you'll develop your own "comfort zone". Just go with your instinct. Welcome to the "Second-Guessing Ourselves" Club! [img][/img]

On Feb 17, 2001

Hello and welcome Mir! My son is 2 and is allergic to peanuts and at least 3 of the 'tree nuts'. Even before we knew how serious peanut allergy is (we were given NO info by our dr either, I literally stumbled on this site a year later and that was how we became informed), we didn't let Matt have anything with any kind of nuts. The reasoning behind this at first was because "peanuts are nuts, so he might be allergic to all nuts". Later we learned peanuts are NOT nuts, but are in fact legumes, but that other nuts often times are manufactured at the same plant as peanuts and may have peanut residue or "dust" on them which could cause a reaction. Also peanuts are used as a kind of 'generic filler' in place of other nuts and not labeled as peanuts. NOW the reasoning for not letting him have tree nuts are twofold. First being the cross-contamination issues with peanuts, and also because he is allergic to some of them anyway.

Often if a person is allergic to one food in a certain family, they will also be allergic to others in the same family. Like being allergic to peanuts, soy, and green beans (all legumes). Even though peanuts and tree nuts are in different families, there seems to be a lot of people who are allergic to both peanuts and tree nuts, but not other legumes. Matt for one. He isn't allergic to any other legumes besides peanuts, but is to certain tree nuts. So there's another potential reason for not giving a PA child tree nuts... for some reason them seem to be more prone to tree nut allergies.

On Feb 17, 2001

Mir, welcome! Let's see if I can make a long story short (okay, I can hear everyone laughing already [img][/img] ).

When I first gave my son a peanut product, I thought peanuts were the same as tree nuts. He had already tried almonds and walnuts so I thought it was okay for him to try a peanut chocolate bar. Wrong.

He was diagnosed at 18 months. He had a very slight reaction to the peanut chocolate bar. Now, when he was first diagnosed, we certainly did not allow him to eat any more peanut products or "may contain trace peanut" products, etc. BUT, we still had tree nuts in our home. I make a wonderful turkey stuffing with sliced almonds and I make another wonderful little green bean dish with cashews. I still made them and Jesse probably still had a taste of them.

Then, at just over 2-1/2 years of age, he had his second reaction which was anaphylactic. It was at that time, when I finally realized the seriousness of his allergy, that my "comfort zone" changed drastically.

You have to recognize that this was also done without the aid of a wonderful site like this, the internet, a computer, anything. It was just something that happened. We no longer allowed any "may contain" products in our home for anyone else to eat. We no longer allowed any tree nuts into our home. Things just changed.

Now, thinking back on it, I almost wish that I had made the changes I ended up making after his first anaphylactic reaction when he was first diagnosed with PA. However, all of Jesse's reactions (3, 2 of which were anaphylactic) have been as a direct result of contact with a peanut product.

I did buy MultiGrain Cheerios with the warning "may contain trace almonds". I did still have tree nuts in my home. My soul, in cleaning out a sideboard, I found an actual peanut and realized that even after he was diagnosed we still had peanuts in our home (someone had given us a bag for Christmas) for our own consumption. I would NEVER do that now.

However, I'm not saying that your comfort zone has to be like me. No one has the same comfort zone. I can be extremely rigid and then other times, when it comes to eating outside of our home, perhaps what would be considered lax.

As long as you understand the reasoning behind the worry of cross-contamination - i.e., all nuts are together, whether tree nuts or peanuts, just look in the stores, then it's really up to you to figure out what you'd like to do.

Now, I know that I did have a problem with the MultiGrain Cheerios that said "may contain trace almonds". What I did was called General Mills. I was told that they were made in a facility that did NOT contain peanuts, only almonds.

I think you'll figure it out. Don't get overwhelmed or discouraged. Keep posting and asking questions. Take what advice you would like and take the rest with a grain of salt. You will find a lot of differing opinions here - some people choose not to let their children eat chocolate because of the risks of it, or ice cream parlour ice cream, or donuts from a donut shop. It's really like a whole big maze that you kinda have to wander through and figure out for yourself.

But, you know what? You will. Especially since you've found this website. Now, when I first found it, I already had my current "comfort zone", it had been a year since Jesse's last reaction when I found this site. But, I sat back and I really started to question myself. And I already had my comfort zone in place and what I consider a good one. I recognized that I had to step back and think about things and how I wanted to handle them.

My PA son isn't allergic to any tree nuts either but I still don't buy any products that even say "may contain trace almonds" anymore. Now, since your post, I'm wondering if I'm being too strident. I'm almost wanting to suggest to you that if your daughter is PA only, call the company to make sure that the product is not made in a facility with peanuts, and then give it a go. Why would I say that to you when I won't allow myself to go there?

The other thing is, I really hope that people are able to set up comfort zones to protect their children by educating themselves really well, however they may have to do it, so that they do not learn the hard way, as I did. Now, it wasn't because of my comfort zone in my home that Jesse had his two anaphylactic reactions - they still would have happened, but eventually, he would have had a reaction due to the comfort zone I had originally. I just wish people were tighter than I was when he was first diagnosed so that they don't have to witness their child in anaphylactic shock or so that they don't have their child almost die, as mine almost did.

We're all here to help you, Mir, and I'm glad to read that you got your Epi-pen!

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Feb 18, 2001

Thanks, everyone. Cindy--I feel like I know you already from reading all of your posts on this site! LOL!

Knowing that you called General Mills and they told you there were no peanuts in the facility where the Multigrain Cheerios are made helps me to feel more comfortable. I know things may have changed since you called, but now I know that it's probably a good idea to call whenever in doubt; so I'll do that.

Isaac has become such a picky eater throughout his various food problems, that I hate to take away cheerios (one of his "true loves" in food!) if I don't need to. At least now I feel I have a plan rather than just a guess. [img][/img]


On Feb 20, 2001

Welcome Mir, my son is only PA and tested negative to tree nuts at 12 months. We went back to the allergist two weeks ago for the first time since his initial visit. I asked the doctor if we should test for tree nuts in case he developed an allergy. He wouldn't test for tree nuts and said we should just treat him as if he is. He said there is such a big risk of cross-contamination that I should just stay away.

Also, since peanuts look like other nuts, I'm afraid my son will get confused with what is safe and what isn't. Someone innocently may also think something is made with tree nuts and tell him it's safe but it may actually be peanuts instead. There was a story recently about a child who was allergic to peacans and not peanuts. She was at school and ate a chocolate cluster that someone told her had peanuts in it and not peacans. It actually had peacans in it and she died. That incident scared me terribly and reinforced that avoiding all peanuts/nuts just makes sense.

On Feb 20, 2001

I think the advice about following your own comfort zone is a good one. My son is PA and also allergic to walnuts. He had an anaphylactic reaction to a minute amount of walnuts when he was 8. We have now gone almost three years without another reaction. We do allow him to eat honey nut cheerios (with almonds). He has actually had a generic brand of these as well. I feel that sometimes I have to go a bit out of my comfort zone so that he doesn't feel deprived. Especially now that he is entering the middle school years I don't want him to think he is missing out on something and take unnecessary risks. We don't allow him to eat granola because of the variance in brands. I doesn't seem worth it. He also doesn't eat any other kind of nuts. But, we do have a local donut shop where we feel comfortable about their processes and he eats their chocolate donuts. He wouldn't eat just any donut though. He is good about this. We also eat ice cream at several local shops but only if the ice cream he wants is nowhere near any peanut ice cream--and we have them wash the scooper special (with soap and water) and then dig down into fresh ice cream. So far this has worked for us. I try to be vigilant and teach our son to be vigilant without him feeling excluded from life. I think we need to make sure our children don't feel deprived or "different" in a negative way. We try to keep our son safe but not make him paranoid or nervous all the time. It is tough though because as adults we understand the full scope of their allergies!