Identification of peanuts and tree nuts: are allergists smarter than their patients?

Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2013 Oct;111(4):282-5. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.07.010. Epub 2013 Aug 15.


Background: It has been reported that peanut- or tree nut-allergic individuals and their guardians are poorly capable of differentiating various tree nuts and peanuts. No information exists on the ability of allergists to differentiate peanuts and tree nuts.

Objective: To measure the ability of allergists and other specialists within the allergy and immunology field to identify various types of tree nuts and peanuts.

Methods: A nut box with a clear cover was constructed and contained various tree nuts and peanuts in shelled and unshelled forms. Attendees at the 2012 national meeting of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology were offered participation by viewing the nut box and filling in their responses to a questionnaire. A similar procedure was conducted in the Food Allergy Center at Children's Medical Center (Dallas, TX) for guardians of children with and without peanut or tree nut allergies.

Results: Allergists were better able to identify and differentiate tree nuts and peanuts than guardians of peanut- or tree nut-allergic children, guardians of children without food allergies, and allergy and immunology fellows in training.

Conclusion: It is important for allergists to educate peanut- and tree nut-allergic individuals and their guardians on the proper avoidance of peanuts and tree nuts. This includes education in the ability to identify peanuts and tree nuts. In addition, allergy and immunology fellows in training may benefit from education in proper peanut and tree nut identification.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Allergy and Immunology
  • Arachis / classification*
  • Fellowships and Scholarships
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Legal Guardians
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nut Hypersensitivity
  • Nuts / classification*
  • Patients
  • Peanut Hypersensitivity
  • Specialization
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult