Dealing with food allergies can be difficult, especially if you’re not sure what’s ‘safe’ to buy. This is especially true for those with severe peanut allergies, as even a trace can cause an allergic reaction. How do you know if something is a peanut free food?

First, start by reading the ingredient list. Peanut flour, peanut oil, peanut butter, and peanuts themselves are to be avoided., of course. However, often that is not enough to ensure that food is completely peanut-free. Peanuts are found in surprising places, including candy bars, cereals, and even fruit snacks.

Read the label carefully, and you may be surprised to see “may contain traces of peanuts” even when peanuts do not make an appearance in the ingredient list. This means that the food was processed in a facility that also handles peanuts. While this may not seem like a big deal to someone who is not allergic, for those with severe peanut allergies such warnings are to be taken seriously. Cross-contamination can mean that these products contain small amounts of peanut. Often, peanut dust or peanut residue is enough to set off an allergic reaction.

Food labels and ingredients may change over time. As a result, it is always a good idea to read the label before purchasing food for someone with peanut allergies, even if you’ve purchased the same product many times before. Do not assume that food is peanut-free, and if in doubt, contact the manufacturer before purchasing.

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