Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts, which grow on trees. Peanuts grow underground and are part of the legumes plant family. Other legumes include beans, peas, lentils, and soybeans. People who are allergic to peanuts do not have a greater chance of being allergic to another legume (including soy) than they do to any other food. Tree nuts include, but are not limited to, walnut, pecans, pine nuts, almond, hazelnut, cashew, pistachio, and Brazil nuts. A person with an allergy to one type of tree nut has a higher chance of being allergic to other types. Most experts advise patients with tree nuts allergies to avoid all products that contain nuts or ingredients produced from nuts.
Nut-free products may be manufactured in the same facility as peanuts or other tree nuts. As a result, there is a higher likelihood of cross-contact with nut ingredients during manufacturing and processing. Manufacturers are now required to disclose any nut-free product that is made in the same facility as products with peanuts or tree nuts. Retailers who produce or package any items in their warehouses, back rooms, or deli departments must clearly label any nut item and include risk of nut contamination on the label. When sampling items for customers, staff should thoroughly read product labels to check for specific nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, or peanut oil, and be sure to include this information on sampling signs.
Nut-free substitutes for peanut butter include sesame butter (made from whole sesame seeds), tahini (made from hulled sesame seeds), Sunbutter (made from sunflower seeds), or other nut butter made from acceptable nuts for customers who are allergic to peanuts but not to tree nuts.