You can’t get away from it these days. At the store, in restaurants, at school—allergy warnings are everywhere.
Peanut allergies are some of the most common food allergies. Exact figures are hard to come by, but an estimated 1 % of the population have them, with varying degrees of severity. Allergies—whatever the allergen and even in tiny amounts, cause symptoms such as rash, itchy skin, tingling or numbness of the mouth or throat, difficulty breathing, cramps, diarrhea, and other digestive upsets. The most severe and feared type of allergic reaction is anaphylaxis, which can lead to serious respiratory and cardiovascular symptoms and even cause death. Fortunately, a lot of work has been done to raise awareness about peanut allergies. Preventing a reaction means avoiding peanuts completely. This is easier said than done, since peanuts and derivatives like peanut oil can be found in a multitude of foods. Even seemingly peanut-free foods may have come in contact with peanuts during processing at one stage or another. One small consolation is that food manufacturers and creators are increasingly careful about food allergies. They’re also putting more work into labelling foods and including allergen warnings in restaurant menus. Remember to inform your family and friends and take precautions to avoid contamination!