The most talked about food allergens. One of the Top 9, peanut allergies are very common among children, but only about 20% will ever outgrow it. Peanut allergies are no joke and are known to cause severe anaphylaxis, requiring an Epi-Pen to be on hand at all times. Reactions can be so severe that many with the allergy can have it be lethal. Allergic reaction symptoms range from running nose, itching skin, hives, swelling, throat tightening, trouble breathing, digestive problems, dizziness, rapid pulse, a severe drop in blood pressure, etc. The severity of peanut allergies can be so great that even the smallest trace amount can cause a deathly reaction. Even the touch or breath from someone who just had contact with the allergen can trigger reactions in the allergic individual.
Peanut Detector Dogs are even given in severe cases. These dogs are trained to detect the presence or residue of peanuts at the slightest odor. These dogs are lifesaving for many individuals, especially children who aren't able to fully understand the allergen yet. Medical ID bracelets are also very common to have. This is why peanut allergies are such a concern in school settings as well. The severity can be too deadly and the potential risk too high for some individuals, that banning peanuts may be the safest option.
The thing about peanuts that differs from tree nuts, and is its own category in the Top 8, is that peanuts are not nuts. Peanuts are legumes and part of the pea family. A legume is a plant where the seeds are grown in pods (ie. peas). Peanuts are grown underground, however, they start out as a flower but end up becoming so heavy the flower bends and burrows under the ground, which is where the peanut matures to its full form.
Grab this word search activity to help teach your kids which peanut terms to look for on packages!
FDA regulations are pretty tight on the peanut allergen and every product containing peanut as an ingredients must be clearly labeled and declared. However, "may contain", "produced in", or "produced on the same equipment as" statements are only voluntary by manufacturers. That's why, just like with any allergen, careful label reading (and contacting the manufacturer if you're still unsure), is an extreme must!
Peanut Free Planet is a great online food retailer for finding safe products (it's really awesome!) and other support and educational info! You should also stock up on some Barney Butter! Almond butter made in a 100% safe peanut-free facility! (And it just tastes amazing!)
So tell me:
+ Do you or a loved one have a peanut allergy?
+ Is your child in a peanut-free classroom? School? Peanut allergies are on the rise and this accommodation is becoming more and more prevalent.
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