All About Food Allergens: Peanuts

(FN1828, Reviewed March 2022)

This publication about food allergies is intended to be used in parent education programs and by high school teachers.

Lead Author
Lead Author:
Brittany Twiss, NDSU Dietetic Intern (former)
Other Authors

Julie Garden Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D, Professor and Food and Nutrition Specialist

Web only
Publication Sections

What are the symptoms of a peanut allergy?

Mild symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Skin redness
  • Itchy mouth or ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Cough
  • Odd taste in mouth

Severe symptoms may include one or more of the following:

  • Swelling of the lips, tongue and/or throat
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Turning blue
  • Feeling faint, confused, weak
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Chest pain
  • Weak pulse

Severe symptoms, alone or in combination with milder symptoms, may be signs of a fatal reaction and require immediate treatment. Anaphylaxis is a condition that occurs when an allergy affects many areas of the body. Some signs of anaphylaxis include tightening of airways, a swollen throat, a severe drop in blood pressure, rapid pulse and dizziness or even loss of consciousness. If not treated quickly, anaphylaxis can lead to death.

Medical experts recommend that people with a peanut allergy have constant access to an epinephrine auto-injector, better known as an EpiPen, at all times.

What ingredients/foods should I avoid if I am allergic to peanuts?

Completely avoid peanut and peanut products. Peanuts are not the same as tree nuts. About one-fourth of those with a peanut allergy also have a tree nut allergy. Peanuts and tree nuts often come in contact with one another during manufacturing and serving. For these reasons, avoiding tree nuts also is advisable.

Look for the allergen statement “Contains peanuts” following the ingredient list on food package labels. See www.foodallergy.com for the complete list of allergens.

Caution: Alternative nut butters such as soy nut butter or sunflower seed butter may be produced on equipment shared with tree nuts and/or peanuts. Contact the manufacturer before purchasing these items.

Avoid foods that contain peanuts or any of these ingredients:

  • Beer nuts
  • Candy containing peanuts
  • Ground nuts
  • Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring)
  • Mixed nuts
  • Monkey nuts
  • Nut meat
  • Nut pieces
  • Peanut butter
  • Peanut flour
  • Peanut oil
  • Peanut powder
  • Peanut protein hydrolysate

How much of a peanut allergen can cause a reaction?

Even trace amounts of a food allergen can cause a reaction. Although consuming the food allergen is the primary cause of severe reactions, in some cases, skin contact or breathing in a food protein (for example, steam from cooking) can cause symptoms. Strictly avoiding peanuts and peanut products is vital. Always read ingredient labels to identify peanut ingredients. Look for “contains peanuts” or “may contain peanuts” on the nutrition facts label.

What are businesses and food manufacturers doing to avoid reactions?

The federal Food Labeling Act requires that all packaged food products sold in the U.S. that contain peanuts must list the word “peanut” on the label. Read all product labels carefully before purchasing and consuming any item. Ingredients in packaged food products may change without warning, so check ingredient statements every time you shop. If you have questions, call the manufacturer.

What is the best treatment for a severe reaction to a food allergy?

Severe reactions require immediate medical intervention, so call 911. Epinephrine is the first-line treatment for anaphylaxis, a rare but severe whole-body allergic reaction that causes severe symptoms, including tightening of the airway. After a food allergy diagnosis is made, your allergist likely will prescribe an epinephrine auto-injector and teach you how to use it.


Key to abbreviations:

c. = cup

Tbsp. = tablespoon

tsp. = teaspoon

g = gram

mg = milligram

Note: Be sure to check the ingredient statements on food package labels to avoid allergens in these recipes. Check to ensure individual ingredients are produced in a peanut- and tree nut- free facility.

7-Ingredient Chocolate Granola (Peanut-free)

7-Ingredient Chocolate Granola (Peanut-free)
Photo Credit:
NDSU Extension
7-Ingredient Chocolate Granola (Peanut-free)

1½ c. unsweetened coconut flakes

½ c. pumpkin seeds

½ c. flaxseeds

1 Tbsp. Sunbutter or almond butter

1 Tbsp. canola oil

¼ c. dried cranberries

¼ c. semisweet chocolate chips

Mix together coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds in a medium bowl; set aside. Heat a large-sized skillet over medium heat and add canola oil and Sunbutter or almond butter. Add the dry coconut flake/seed mixture to the skillet and stir well. Make sure dry ingredients are evenly coated with the butter mixture. Toast in the skillet for about
10 to 15 minutes on medium-low heat.

Pour mixture onto a tray lined with parchment paper, and after a few minutes of cooling, add chocolate chips and dried cranberries and toss to mix. Chips will continue melting to make the granola creamy and chocolatey.

Enjoy with your favorite milk, yogurt or by itself.

Makes 12 servings. Each serving has 160 calories, 12 g fat, 5 g protein, 11 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber and 5 mg sodium.

Sunbutter Overnight Oats (Peanut-free)

Sunbutter Overnight Oats
Photo Credit:
NDSU Extension
Sunbutter Overnight Oats

1 c. skim milk

1 Tbsp. chia seeds*

2 Tbsp. crunchy Sunbutter

1 Tbsp. maple syrup

½ c. oats

Fresh fruit of strawberries or blueberries (optional)

In small bowl, add milk, chia seeds, Sunbutter and maple syrup. Add oats and stir a few more times. Pour mixture into an 8-ounce Mason jar. Screw on lid and set in refrigerator overnight, or for at least six hours. After refrigerating, open and enjoy as is or garnish with fresh fruit.


The Overnight Oats recipe will keep in the refrigerator for up to two days, although the recipe is best enjoyed within the first 12 to 24 hours. Find Sunbutter near peanut butter in most grocery stores.

Makes two servings. Each serving has 290 calories, 12 g fat, 12 g protein, 35 g carbohydrate, 6 g fiber and 75 mg sodium.

*Chia seeds often are found in the natural foods section or with rice and dry beans in grocery stores.

More Information

More Information Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Information Center at https://www.nal.usda.gov/legacy/fnic/allergies-and-food-sensitivities.

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