Nut free?

19 May

A few weeks ago I went out for dinner with a friend who has a nut allergy.  She mentioned her allergy to the guy behind the counter and asked what foods didn’t contain nuts and then she ordered her food.  I was surprised by how she hadn’t asked to speak to the chef in person like I’d read you should do on all the allergy advice websites.  All she was bothered about was whether the recipe contained nuts, not whether there was any cross contamination.  So off I went thinking how this wasn’t responsible behaviour, blah, blah.

But today I realised I’m also doing things in a way that other people might think is just irresponsible and struggling to balance the ‘ideal’ scenario with daily life.  That’s the way it goes when dealing with allergies, isn’t it?! My boy has peanut and tree nut allergies (blood and skin prick tests respectively) and technically I think we’re meant to never give him anything that isn’t “nut free”.  Over the last year tho, I have stopped paying attention to the ‘may contain traces of nuts’ or ‘packed in a facility which processes nuts, peanuts, sesame’ signs on packets. These warning signs are on everything from pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, to kids fruit snacks.  It was only yesterday, when I was reading the comments on the incredibly useful Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network facebook wall about cooking for an allergic child that I realised some parents out there really are more diligent with only providing “nut free” foods.

Part of me feels that well, we’ve gone about a year without any problems even whilst eating the foods with warning signs, so why change?  The signs are on almost all the stuff we eat that’s been processed in any way and there is nothing at all about nuts/peanuts etc on our flours for example.  I can’t imagine cutting out even more foods from Adam’s already quite limited (tho nutritious!) diet, without a strong reason for doing so.  We have no idea whether Adam has a severe allergy to nuts or peanuts as he’s never eaten them in his life, thank God, so it’s an unknown (apart from the test results).

I guess I’ll need to do some more research into this!  In the meantime, I wonder how everyone else manages this balance between what is the most cautious, safe, ideal route  and the practicality of providing a balanced, relatively varied diet for your child?

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One Response to “Nut free?”

  1. Alexa Baracaia May 21, 2012 at 7:06 pm #

    Great blog!

    This ‘traces of nuts’ issue is something I’ve really struggled with and nobody can give a conclusive answer as it isn’t an exact science. Our son’s doctor advises that 50 per cent of his patients do eat ‘traces of nuts’ products and 50 per cent don’t; to an extent you have to judge the risk for yourself.

    Generally speaking the guidance I’ve received from allergists is to be sensible – cereals, cereal bars, baked goods etc are more likely to actually contain traces than some of the sillier items that declare warnings, such as pepper or cornflour or orange juice.

    I’ve also been told that one of the big problems is that nine out of ten packs of whatever with a nut trace warning may be fine, no issues at all, but the tenth could have been cross contaminated and therefore cause a reaction. So just because you’ve been safe to eat a particular product time and again doesn’t mean it will always be safe.

    Also, I’ve been told cross contamination doesn’t mean there are miniscule traces in every packet, but rather that one may contain more than others.

    It’s so difficult. I’ve decided for now to reject all ‘traces’ foods – certainly while our son is still too young to tell us whether he’s suffering any kind of reaction. In future, I’ll probably tread very cautiously but may consider some depending of the type of food. Good luck looking into it! Would love to know what you find and decide…

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