Food blogger Christina Conte never imagined a pepper blend would ever trigger her daughter’s severe nut allergy.
When her daughter was 14 years old, she was eating in a restaurant in Disneyland with her best friend’s family. The friend’s mother called Christina because she was worried she had ingested a form of tree nuts somehow. They were able to get the nuts out of her system — and didn’t need to use the EpiPen — but had no idea what caused her reaction.
Her daughter had eaten tortellini alfredo and focaccia, which the chef had assured her was all nut-free.
A few weeks later, Christina was browsing spices on Amazon and clicked on a Four Seasons Pepper Blend. She was surprised to see an allergy alert in the customer review section, advising people with cashew or nut allergies to be aware that the product contained brazil pepper, pink pepper, and Peruvian pepper. Pepper berries are in the cashew family, and Christina had a pepper berry tree in the backyard of her previous home — never realizing it had a connection to nuts.
Christina called the restaurant back and asked the chef if he had used that particular spice blend — he confirmed that he had.
Ever since, she has been spreading this message to families of people with nut allergies on her blog, Christina’s Cucina:
Pink peppercorns, pink pepperberries, pink berries, Peruvian pepper — and whatever else they may be called — are related to CASHEWS, and can cause an anaphylactic reaction in those who are allergic to CASHEWS/TREE NUTS.
If you or your child has a nut allergy, be sure to ask restaurants if their food is prepared using a pepper blend that contains pink peppercorns, pink pepperberries, pink berries, or Peruvian pepper.
H/T to Christina’s Cucina