Tree nuts are listed as a priority allergen in Canada. This page focuses on facts specific to tree nut allergies, available resources, and special considerations related to this allergen.
Facts about tree nut allergy
- Tree nut allergy affects 1.6% of children under 18 years of age and 1.2% of adults in Canada.
- Tree nuts include almonds, hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, and others.
- Peanuts are not considered tree nuts. Rather, they are in the legume family. It is possible to be allergic to nuts without being allergic to peanuts. The opposite is also true.
- A person with a tree nut allergy may react to only one type of nut, but may also react to several. In addition, a person allergic to one type of nut is at greater risk of developing an allergy to other nuts.
- It should be noted that, even if allergic to one type of nut, the risk of contamination between the different nuts, as well as between nuts and peanuts, is very high.
- Nutmeg: since it is not a nut, its consumption is safe for individuals allergic to nuts.
- Coconut: it is part of the palm family and has only a distant relationship with nuts. It should be noted that coconut allergy is very rare, and concomitant coconut allergies are considered isolated cases .
- Shea nuts: related to the Brazil nut, shea nuts are in the nut family. However, shea nuts and their butter, used in a large number of soaps, body creams, and cosmetics, have low amounts of protein compared to other types of nuts, which would reduce their allergenic potential . Nevertheless, people with nut allergies should always be cautious about eating shea nuts or using shea butter.
- A person allergic to one type of nut is at greater risk of having an allergy to other types of nuts .
Nuts REFERENCE GUIDE
|Terms that may indicate the presence of nuts (non-exhaustive list)
||White American nuts
||Nougat or torrone
|Walnuts from Grenoble
|Cashew nuts (cashews)
||Pine nuts (piñón, pinoli, pignoli)
||Sweet almond oil
|Butternut nut (white walnut)
||Walnuts from England
|Health Canada’s food allergen labelling regulations established in 2012 prohibit use of these terms. Manufacturers must declare the presence of nuts in the list of ingredients, either on the label of their product or in the words “Contains.” However, it is important to keep those terms in mind when travelling, as regulations vary from one country to another. In some cases, it may also be useful to know them when we are offered homemade or artisanal products.
|Foods that are likely sources of nuts (non-exhaustive list)
|Coffee from coffee grinders used to grind nut-flavoured coffee
||Pesto sauce (pine nuts, walnuts)
|Calisson (almond candy that looks like marzipan)
||Hazelnuts or almonds
||Non-dairy products of imitation walnut cheese
||Spreads, for example, made from marzipan, chocolate and walnut spreads
|Gianduja and gianduia (a mixture of chocolate and hazelnuts)
|Foods that are possible sources of nuts (non-exhaustive list)
|Flavours and natural extracts, e. g. pure almond extract
||Snack foods, e.g. trail mix
||Vegetarian dishes, breads, sauces, and Asian dishes
||Preparations for bakery and pastry products, cereals, crackers, and muesli
|Digestives, e.g. Amaretto and Frangelico
||Salads, e.g. Waldorf salad
||Deli meats (pistachios)
||Sauces for salads and stocks
|Possible sources of nuts in commonly used products (non-exhaustive list)
||Bean bags, Hacky sack
||Sunscreen and other cosmetics
|Note: To find out if commonly used products contain nuts, it is important to read the labels and contact the manufacturer. Food allergen labelling regulations apply only to packaged foods, they do not apply to non-food products.
|Nutritional and culinary substitutes
||Nuts: sunflower seeds, soy nuts
|Nut butter: sunflower seed butter, hummus, and soy nut butter
Recipes and resources for people with tree nut allergies
 Soller, S et coll. (2015). Adjusting for nonresponse bias corrects overestimates of food allergy prevalence. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 3(2), 291-293. DOI 10.1016/j.jaip.2014.11.006
 Stutius, L., Sheehan, W., et coll. (2010) Characterizing the Relationship Between Sesame, Coconut, and Nut Allergy in Children. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology. 21(8), 1114-8Teuber, S. S. et Peterson, W. (1999). Systemic allergic reaction to coconut (Cocos nucifera) in 2 subjects with hypersensitivity to tree nut and demonstration of cross-reactivity to legumin-like seed storage proteins: new coconut and walnut food allergens. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. 103(6), 1180-5.
 Chawla, K. K. et coll. (mars 2011). Shea butter contains no IgE-binding soluble proteins. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 127(3), 680-82. DOI 10.1016/j.jaci.2010.10.022
 Sicherer, S. (2001). Clinical implications of cross-reactive food allergens. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 108(6), 881-890. DOI 10.1067/mai.2001.118515