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Tree Nut Allergy Diet

General guidelines for tree nut allergy 

The key to an allergy-free diet is to stay away from all foods or products containing the food to which you are allergic. If you have an allergy to tree nuts, you need to stay away from foods that have tree nuts. To prevent allergic reactions, you must read food labels.

By law, all packaged food items in the U.S. must clearly state on their label if they contain tree nuts. And the type of tree nut must also be listed on the food label. This is required by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA).

Some people with a tree nut allergy must stay away from all tree nuts (listed below). Others may be able to eat some types of tree nuts, but not have others. Talk with your healthcare provider about what's right for you.

How to read a label for a tree nut-free diet

Stay away from the following nuts and other foods:

  • Almonds

  • Beechnuts

  • Brazil nuts

  • Butternuts

  • Caponata (seafood salad with pine nuts)

  • Cashews

  • Chestnuts

  • Coconut

  • Filberts or hazelnuts

  • Gianduja (mixture of chocolate and toasted nuts in premium or imported chocolate)

  • Gingko nuts

  • Hickory nuts

  • Lychee nuts

  • Macadamia nuts

  • Marzipan/almond paste

  • Natural nut extract

  • Nougat

  • Artificial nuts

  • Nut butters (for example, cashew or almond butter)

  • Hazelnut spread

  • Nut oil

  • Nut pastes (for example, almond paste)

  • Pecans

  • Pesto with pine nuts

  • Pine nuts (pignolia)

  • Pistachios

  • Praline

  • Walnuts

Also keep in mind:

  • Don't eat artificial nuts. They are peanuts that have been deflavored. They are reflavored with a nut such as pecan or walnut.

  • Don't eat foods with natural extracts, such as pure almond extract, and natural wintergreen extract.

  • Ethnic foods, commercially-prepared baked goods, and candy can be cross-contaminated with nuts.

  • Tree nuts are added to many types of foods. These include barbecue sauces, cereals, crackers, and ice creams.

  • Foods that don't contain tree nuts can be contaminated during manufacturing. And companies are not required by law to put advisory statements on food labels. Advisory statements include things such as "made in a facility with tree nuts." Or "made on shared equipment." Ask your provider if you can eat products with these labels.

  • Some foods and products are not covered by the FALCPA labeling law. These include:

    • Foods that are not regulated by the FDA

    • Makeup and personal care items

    • Prescription and over-the-counter medicines and supplements

    • Toys, crafts, and pet foods

When you are not at home

  • Always carry 2 epinephrine auto-injectors. Make sure that you and the people close to you know how to use them.

  • Wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace with your allergy information.

  • If you don't have epinephrine auto-injectors, talk with your healthcare provider. Ask if you should carry them.

  • In a restaurant, keep in mind that food may be cross-contaminated with tree nuts.

  • Always read food labels. And always ask about ingredients at restaurants. Do this even for foods that you have eaten before.

  • Don't eat at buffets that have tree nuts. Food at these buffets can be contaminated by shared serving spoons.

Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith RN MSN CCRC
Online Medical Reviewer: Deborah Pedersen MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2018
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.