1.8 million in U.S. allergic to tree nuts

June 22, 2012 at 1:05 AM
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SANTA MONICA, Calif., June 22 (UPI) -- About 1.8 million Americans are allergic to tree nuts, which are among the leading causes of fatal and near-fatal food reactions, a U.S. expert says.

"Tree nuts include walnut, almond, hazelnut, coconut, cashew, pistachio, Brazil nuts and more," Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of supermarketguru.com, said in a statement. "Tree nuts are not: Peanuts, which are legumes, or seeds, such as sunflower or sesame seeds."

The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network advised that people diagnosed with a tree nut allergy must avoid those nuts for life, Lempert said.

"However, tree nuts are very versatile ingredients and can sometimes pop up in unexpected places. It is important to stay vigilant and read labels," Lempert said. "Here are some unexpected foods that may contain tree nuts: salads and dressing, barbecue sauce, breading for chicken, pancakes, meat-free burgers, pasta, fish dishes, pie crust and honey."

When reading labels, avoid foods that contain nuts or any of these ingredients: almond, artificial nuts, beechnut, Brazil nut, butternut, cashew, chestnut, chinquapin, coconut, filbert/hazelnut, ginkgo nut, hickory nut, litchi/lichee/lychee nut, macadamia nut, marzipan/almond paste, Nangai nut, natural nut extract, nut butters nut meal, nut meat, nut paste or almond paste, nut pieces, pecan, pesto, pili nut, pine nut -- also referred to as Indian, pignoli, pignolia, pignon, pinon and pinyon nut -- pistachio, praline, shea nut and walnut, Lempert said.

"In 2006, the Food and Drug Administration began identifying coconut -- a seed -- as a tree nut, but ask your doctor if you need to avoid coconut," Lempert said.

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