Can a tree-nut butter be peanut free?

Among the resources I’m aiming to build on for the Allergy Insight website is the list of free from foods. I want these to be quite small and modest, and feature little-known brands that allergic consumers may not know about. There are many terrific and thorough directories out there with which I don’t wish to compete – not least the peerless Free From Foods Matter directories – and I’m aiming that those here will supplement the existing ones, and offer something different, such as lists of sesame-free brands.

It was while working on the Nut and Peanut Free page that I came across Nutural World – a small specialist producer of handmade nut and seed butters.

I’d noticed on the pages of some of the products – such as the Hazelnut Butter – an allergies statement:

” … made in a peanut-free environment, and is thus is completely safe for those with peanut allergy. However, Nutural World produces other seed and nut based products, and while every effort is made to separate the production lines it cannot guarantee that the product is free of traces of other seeds and nuts.”

I wondered whether this applied to all products, and dropped them a line. Mordechai Chachamu of Nutural World responded, confirming that yes, this did apply to all, that peanuts were not used at all and were not in the production line – although he did add that this may change in future.

Could he guarantee his tree nut suppliers were peanut free?

He couldn’t, but made an interesting point I’d not considered before, that:

” … it is highly unlikely that a tree nut producer also cultivates ground nuts – it doesn’t seem a likely combination for a large scale farmer”.

This struck me as an important observation, and I wondered whether we could somehow encourage an initiative for farmers to declare their ‘may contain’ risks (or absence of risks) to their customers, in the hope of encouraging the latter to pass on that information to their own consumers. Either that, or a similar process in reverse, where purchasers of raw food materials could make more of an effort to establish the degree of ‘free from-ness’ of their ingredients from their suppliers. Would this foster greater awareness? Would we see fewer ‘may contain’ warnings – or would we see more? Does this happen already?

I also wonder whether these sort of peanut / tree nut issues are never really broached or tackled, simply because there’s a widespread assumption that peanut allergy is inevitably partnered with co-existing tree nut allergy (and vice versa) and because many nut allergy sufferers (or their parents) are advised to avoid all nut forms.

As we’ve heard before, there can be no guarantees in life, but the Nutural World tree nut butters seem to me to be as safe as they can be for those with confirmed peanut allergy *only*.

If you’re the parent of an allergic child or have peanut allergy yourself – would you be reassured enough?

For more information about Nutural World, see their website.

2 Comments

  1. Alexa Baracaia

    This is really interesting because I find nut manufacture and processing hugely opaque. We can eat some tree nuts but not cashew, brazil, peanut or sesame. Yet all nut products have a catch-all ‘may contain other nuts (and often sesame)’ warning. I would love more transparency as it seems hugely unlikely to me that all nuts are processed together. With allergists now advising the introduction of ‘safe’ nuts into allergic patients’ diets, having clearer and more accurate contamination information would be hugely helpful. If I could buy shelled almonds, for instance, knowing they haven’t been processed on the same lines as peanuts, brazils, cashews and sesame it would be hugely liberating.

    Reply
    1. Alex G (Post author)

      Thanks for commenting – and yes, you’d think it could, at least potentially, be a lot clearer or more standardised. I guess there are scenarios we can’t imagine … traceability issues, potentially … and if the real situation varies between supplier / product, then a manufacturer is likely to simply find it easier to write a sweeping ‘may contain’ statement, rather than a more precise and itemised one, which has to be in some regards monitored and kept ‘on top of’, which could get complicated if suppliers change, or change their protocols. More complexity leads to more likelihood of error .. and more likelihood of litigation, is, I suspect, the fear underlying this.

      Reply

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