Is Peanut Oil Safe for People with Peanut Allergies?

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People with peanut allergies can sometimes (maybe?) eat peanut oil — what’s confusing about that? Oh right, EVERYTHING!

Peanut allergic reactions are triggered by the protein within the peanut. But peanut oil goes through a rigorous refining process, where it’s purified, bleached, and deodorized. When it’s processed correctly, the proteins in the oil are removed — making it “technically” allergen-free, because it’s the protein that causes the reaction.

Although peanuts are one of the Top 8 major food allergens, the FDA has declared that highly-refined oils are not considered major food allergens, which is why it’s been found in household products as part of the “fragrance.” Studies show that “most (peanut-)allergic individuals can safely eat peanut oil,” providing it’s highly-refined to remove the protein.

Here’s the tricky part: not all peanut oil is highly-refined. Many types of peanut oil are incredibly dangerous for people with peanut allergies.

Is Peanut Oil Safe for People with Peanut Allergies?

There are peanut oils that can still contain the protein, and they’re known as “crude,” “gourmet,” “aromatic”, “arachis” or “cold-pressed” oils. These unprocessed oils contain enough peanut protein to cause an allergic reaction — and unfortunately, they’re likely to be used in high-end restaurants because of their added flavor.

In 2013, a 19-year-old college freshman died after eating a cookie made with peanut oil. It is unknown if the oil was refined or “crude.”

Because there’s such a difference in peanut oils — some safe, some seriously dangerous — many allergists recommend that people with peanut allergies play it safe and refuse all peanut oils.

The trouble is that many restaurant meals are cooked in peanut oil — especially in Asian food and deep-fried fish, because the oil performs well at high temperatures. Restaurant chains Chick-fil-A and Five Guys exclusively use peanut oil for deep-frying because of its neutral taste and low saturated fat content.

The decision of whether or not to ingest peanut oil should be made by discussing it with your allergist. Whether you choose to let your child consume highly-refined peanut oil or not, you still need to ask the right questions — because not all oils are created equally.

If you’re ordering food in a restaurant, here are a few suggestions:

  • Tell your server or the manager that you have a peanut allergy, and ask them to inquire if the kitchen uses peanut oil.
  • If the kitchen uses peanut oil, find out if it’s highly-refined or gourmet/cold-pressed/aromatic.
  • If they admit to using anything other than highly-refined peanut oil, either choose another restaurant or make sure you order something that doesn’t contain a trace of oil — and request that they use clean cookware to prepare your meal to prevent cross-contamination.
  • If the kitchen assures you they only cook with highly-refined peanut oil, it’s up to you — and your allergist — if you feel comfortable eating a meal from the kitchen. Always carry your EpiPen just in case of a reaction.

Tell us: If you or your child has a peanut allergy, are you OK with highly-refined peanut oil?

H/T Allergic Living

Heather Laura Clarke, a contributing writer at Scratch or Sniff, lives in Nova Scotia, Canada, with her high-school sweetheart husband, seven-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter. She writes for newspapers and magazines across Canada and the U.S., and blogs about her family life at Heather's Handmade Life. Follow her adventures on Twitter or Instagram.

7 Comments to Is Peanut Oil Safe for People with Peanut Allergies?

  1. Tams

    My son unknowingly ate something cooked in peanut oil; he, thankfully, didn’t have a reaction but *I* was a nervous wreck. It’s not worth the risk or stress in my opinion.

  2. Tina

    My son 1st ana reaction was after eating at Chic fil a which uses highly refined peanut oil.

  3. Mary

    My daughter had a peanut allergy and is turning 18 next week. There is no way I would ever tell her or anyone else that eating any kind of peanut oil is a good idea and worth the risk. There are so many other foods and restaurants to enjoy. College next year scares me. But we have taught her she’s not missing anything and never take a chance.

  4. Jamie cook

    My daughter has a peanut allergy and had prawn crackers from a Chinese by excel and had a reaction due to the prawn crackers being cooked in peanut oil.

    Would not recommend eating peanut oil refined or not as in my option it’s not safe.

    A concerned father with 2 kids with nut allergys

  5. Nicole

    I have a peanut allergy myself and me and my husband have to be really careful where we go to eat

  6. Deb

    I have a peanut allergy and can eat at Chick Fi lay. That is as far as I have gone. Am scared of Asian restaurants and don’t get fried foods at a lot of places.

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