Peanut Allergies

About 0.6% of the population have an allergy to peanuts. While this probably doesn't apply to you (if you're a regular Peanut Van customer and love our products!) it may apply to one of your friends, relatives or associates. And if so, we hope this information will help.


For people with a severe peanut allergy even the smallest trace of peanut protein can lead to hives, sweating, anaphylactic shock and - in very severe cases - death.

An allergic reaction could be provoked by something as simple as eating a meal that's been cooked in a vessel that previously had peanuts in it (eg: a wok used to prepare an Asian meal) or even by the smell of peanuts (peanut allergens have been shown to travel through the air).

Since peanuts are now very often used in a wide variety of cooking and food products - anything from peanut oils to fillers in spaghetti, canned foodstuffs and many baked food products - and are frequently served from open dishes in restaurants and bars, this can make peanut-allergic people's lives a nightmare.

In addition, people who are allergic to peanuts (which are really legumes) are often also allergic to true nuts (such as walnuts and pecans). So much of what we say here about peanuts applies to those other nuts as well.



 None currently knows exactly what causes peanut allergy. But what is known is that young children seem to be the most prone to it (or in other words, if you don't have a peanut allergy early in your life it's very unlikely you'll develop one as you grow older).


As a result, current medical thinking is that the best way to ensure your child doesn't develop a peanut allergy is not to expose them to peanut products until at least the age of 3 or 4. Even then, you child's first exposure should only be to a small amount.

Similarly, adults such as relatives, teachers or other carers should never force peanut products onto young children if they decline them. The child may have already learned that they should avoid particular types of foods.

Happily, recent research suggests that up to 18% of children who have an allergic reaction to peanuts will eventually grow out of it.

But researchers also advise parents of peanut-allergic children to let a doctor decide if a child has become non-allergic or not. We think that's very wise.

Scientists are currently working on trying to identify which part of the peanut protein causes allergic reactions in the small numbers of people who suffer a peanut allergy, and then develop a treatment for it.


This research holds out some promise of making the lives of peanut-allergic people a lot better in the future. But right at the moment, a genuine breakthrough still seems to be several years away.

Treatments are certainly available right now for people who suffer extreme allergic reactions. But they generally need to be given quickly if a shock reaction sets in.

So if you run across someone who says "I'm sorry, but I'm allergic to peanuts" (or other kinds of nut) please be tolerant and compassionate - especially if they ask you to put away your nuts or decline to eat a certain dish with you.

It's a very real allergy - and often one of the worst possible food allergies to have.

Here are some very useful resources we recommend if you'd like to find out more about peanut allergy and/or stay up-to-date with current research:


Anaphylaxis Australia is dedicated to developing anaphylaxis awareness through education, research and support. Their site contains a wealth of very useful information about peanut allergy and treatments for it.

ASCIA is the peak professional body of Clinical Immunologists and Allergists in Australia and New Zealand. Their site contains a great deal of professional information about anaphylaxis treatments.

The Peanut Company of Australia track current research into peanut allergy, and the Allergy News section of their site provides extensive, up-to-date articles about it.

Wikipedia's overview of peanut allergy provides a simple and fairly non-technical summary of the peanut allergy field, and it's a great way to gain a quick overview of the subject.

HealthMatch's updated information regarding clinical trials in Peanut Allergies.