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Peanut/Nut-Safe Lunches and Snacks

Why Was I Asked to Avoid Sending Peanuts or Nuts for Lunches and Snacks?

There are likely children who have a peanut and/or tree-nut allergy. Peanuts or nut allergies can be severe and may be fatal. Some children are so sensitive that even tiny amounts of peanut
or nut particles or residue can cause a strong reaction. Without treatment, this person could die within minutes.

Peanuts are not the same as nuts. They are a legume. Nuts such as walnuts, cashews and almonds are tree nuts. A child may have a peanut allergy or nut allergy. Some children have both allergies. Because peanuts and tree nuts are often processed in the same facilities, there is a risk that tree nuts may carry some peanut protein residue on them and vice versa.

How Do I Know if a Food Contains Peanuts or Nuts?

  • Read the labels to see if peanuts/nuts are present.
  • Check the list of ingredients each time you buy a product.

Remember, ingredients may change. If you are in doubt about the ingredients, contact the manufacturer.

  • Look for “may contain peanuts/nuts” on the label.
  • Try to avoid products such as bulk food that do not carry a list of ingredients.
  • Imported, non-Canadian products have different labelling requirements, so read the label carefully when choosing these products.

Ingredients Containing or Made From Peanuts*

  • peanuts and peanut oil
  • mixed and ground nuts
  • peanut meal and flour
  • Nutella spread
  • arachis oil
  • goober nuts and peas
  • nut meats
  • peanut butter
  • beer nuts
  • valencias
  • peanut sauce
  • ground nuts
  • artificial nuts
  • mandalona nuts, Nu-Nuts**

**peanuts that have been altered to resemble a nut.

Prepare Food Safely

Wash hands well and make sure that all cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and containers are clean and sanitized. Peanut residue can easily be passed on to other foods during preparation (e.g. don’t dip the knife used to spread peanut butter in the jelly jar).

Peanut/Nut-Free Lunches and Snacks

The key to a balanced lunch is to include at least one food from three of the four food groups listed in Canada’s Food Guide. For snacks, include at least two of the four food groups. ALWAYS read ingredient lists very carefully to check for peanuts and/or nuts. See our “Packing School Lunches” factsheet for tips and ideas on preparing healthy school lunches.

For more information on food allergies, contact:

  • The Allergy/Asthma Information Association at
  • Anaphylaxis Canada

The information in this pamphlet does not replace any advice given by a doctor and does not provide all of the necessary information to deal with peanut allergies.

Foods That May Contain Peanuts or Peanut Oil*

  • potato chips, popcorn, trail mix
  • baked goods (e.g. cake, donuts, cookies, muffins, macaroons) and cake icings
  • granola/cereal/breakfast bars
  • ice cream/frozen desserts
  • crackers
  • Chinese food, curries, satays, and other ethnic foods
  • chocolates and chocolate bars
  • hydrolyzed plant protein/vegetable protein
  • vegetarian meat substitutes
  • cereals
  • fried foods/gravy
  • packed olives
  • canned fish in oil
  • dried fruits
  • soup mix
  • chili con carne
  • salad dressings

Foods That Contain Tree Nuts*

  • almonds
  • cashews
  • macadamia nuts
  • pine nuts
  • walnuts
  • nut meats
  • mandelonas (Nu-Nuts)
  • marzipan (almond paste)
  • Brazil nuts
  • hazelnuts
  • pecans
  • pistachio nuts
  • anacardium nuts
  • nut oils
  • pinon

* Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Note: This list is not complete and may change.

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