Why was I asked to pack peanut/tree nut-safe lunches and snacks?
- Most schools have a nut aware policy which means foods containing peanuts and/or tree nuts are not to be taken to school as there are children who have a life-threatening peanut and/or tree-nut allergy.
- Allergic reactions to peanuts and tree nuts can be fatal. Even very small amounts of peanut and/or tree nuts or residue can cause a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis).
- Tree nuts include almonds, Brazil Nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, pecans, pine nuts (pignolias), pistachio nuts, and walnuts. Other names for tree nuts are listed below.
- Peanuts are part of the legume family and are not considered a tree nut. Other names for peanuts are listed on the next page
How can I tell if a food has peanuts or tree nuts in it?
- Read food labels carefully. Read the entire ingredient list every time you shop. Even if a product looks the same it is possible the ingredients or labelling have changed.
- In Canada, food products that contain peanuts or tree nuts must list these items in the ingredient list and/or in a ‘contains’ statement. For example, a product that has peanuts in it would include the word “peanut” in the ingredient list, or in a statement like “Contains peanuts”, or both.
- Precautionary statements like “free from” or “may contain” claims are examples of voluntary label statements. These statements do not replace the need to read the ingredients list.
- Imported products may have different labeling requirements than Canada. Always read the label and ingredient list carefully if choosing these products.
- If a product does not contain an ingredients list, contact the manufacturer for details or consider not sending the product to school.
Other names for tree nuts (Note: This is not a complete list)
- Anacardium nuts
- Pignons Filberts
- Queensland nuts
- Nut meats
Other names for peanuts (Note: This is not a complete list)
- Beer nuts
- Mandelonas, Nu-NutsTM
- Goober nuts
- Nut meats
- Ground nuts
Examples of foods that contain or may contain peanuts and/or tree nuts (Note: this is not a complete list).
- Canned fish, in oil
- Cookies, muffins, granola bars, etc.,
- Hydrolyzed plant protein
- Icing, glazes
- Chili con carne
- Ice cream/ frozen desserts
- Chinese food, curries, pad Thai, satays
- Marzipan (almond paste)
- Chocolate bars
- Dehydrated soup mixes
- Potato chips, popcorn, trail mix
- Dried fruit
- Salad dressing
- Fried foods
- Tree nut oils
- Granola, cereal, breakfast bars
- Vegetarian meat substitutes
Food allergens may be present in products you don’t expect.
Always read the ingredients list carefully.
How to prepare peanut/tree nut-safe lunches and snacks
- Know your school board’s/ school’s food allergy policy. In some school boards peanut butter substitutes are also not permitted.
- Avoid cross-contamination. Cross-contamination happens when small amounts of a food allergen (e.g.: peanut protein) gets into another food accidentally, or when it is present in saliva, on a surface or on an object. For example, if a knife used to spread peanut butter is then used in a jar of jam, the jam now contains traces of peanut protein. This may be enough to cause an allergic reaction for a child with a severe food allergy.
- Wash hands with soap and water prior to preparing food.
- Ensure cutting boards, utensils, counter tops and containers are cleaned and sanitized before preparing lunches/snacks.
- Use Canada’s food guide (www.canada.ca/cfg) to plan lunches and snacks. See our “Packing School Lunches” factsheet for more ideas.
* Source: Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Note: This list is not complete and may change.
Prefer to speak to a Registered Dietitian? Call Telehealth Ontario toll free at 1-866-797-0000.