Tree Nuts

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.
On this page: Statistics and facts on tree nut allergy >
Tree nut reference guide >
    Terms that may indicate the presence of tree nuts
    Foods that are likely and possible sources of tree nuts
    Possible sources of tree nuts in commonly used products
    Nutritional and culinary substitutes
Helpful resources and nut-free recipes >

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[1].
  • 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 [2].
  • 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 [3]. 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 [4].

Nuts REFERENCE GUIDE

Nuts REFERENCE GUIDE, PDF format (0,5 Mo) (in French)
Terms that may indicate the presence of nuts (non-exhaustive list)
Almonds Marzipan (marzipan) Hickory nuts
Cashew nuts Hazelnuts (avelines) Mixed nuts
Nut butter Nuts Black nuts
Chestnuts Artificial nuts Pitted nuts
Beechnut White American nuts Nougat or torrone
Walnuts from Grenoble Pacans Gianduja
Cashew nuts (cashews) Pine nuts (piñón, pinoli, pignoli) Walnut oil
Macadamia nuts Pistachios Sweet almond oil
Butternut nut (white walnut) Pralines Kajo
Brazil nuts Pacans Walnuts from England
Cashew seed
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 Muesli Pesto sauce (pine nuts, walnuts)
Calisson (almond candy that looks like marzipan) Hazelnuts or almonds Amaretto Flavor
Dragees 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) Halva paste
Foods that are possible sources of nuts (non-exhaustive list)
Flavours and natural extracts, e. g. pure almond extract Chocolate Snack foods, e.g. trail mix
Seasonings Ice cream Vegetarian dishes, breads, sauces, and Asian dishes
Biscuits Preparations for bakery and pastry products, cereals, crackers, and muesli Flavoured coffees
Digestives, e.g. Amaretto and Frangelico Salads, e.g. Waldorf salad Deli meats (pistachios)
Cheese spread Barbecue sauces Pie shells
Cakes Sauces for salads and stocks Frozen deserts
Possible sources of nuts in commonly used products (non-exhaustive list)
Bath oil Bean bags, Hacky sack Pet Foods
Shampoo Bird seeds Sunscreen and other cosmetics
Massage oils
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

Recipes

Resources

[1] 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 [2] 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. [3] 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 [4] 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

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To get the latest news and benefit from free services, subscribe to  Allergy Quebec’s newsletter. By doing so, you will automatically become a member of the association free of charge.