July 8th is National Chocolate with Almonds Day so we have decided today would be a great day to further inform readers of almond allergies.
Allergy to almonds can be one of two types:
- A primary food allergy—a person with this type of allergy will have had previous contact with almonds, resulting in their immune system producing antibodies to almond (this is known as sensitization). In some of these people, further exposure to almond results in an allergic reaction. This type of allergy has the potential to cause a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), which includes breathing difficulty.
- A secondary food allergy—a person with this type of allergy is initially allergic to birch pollen, an important cause of hay fever, and then starts reacting to almond. This happens because of a process called cross-reactivity, where protein found in birch pollen has similarities with a protein found in almonds and therefore, some people react to almond. These reactions are usually mild and include itching or swelling in the mouth. The condition is known as pollen food syndrome.
Where are almonds used?
- Products such as cakes, bread, biscuits, muesli, confectionary, marzipan, frangipane, praline and ice cream
- Almonds are used to make some liqueurs, such as Amaretto. If in doubt about any liqueur, contact the manufacturer (or visit their website) to check for almond content.
- Almond extract is made from almonds and should be avoided by people who are allergic to almonds
- Almond flavoring may be made from almonds or may not be so it is best to be cautious
- Almond oil, most commonly used in confectionery and pastries, should be avoided by anyone allergic to almonds
- Almond oil and other almond derivatives are used in toiletries (such as creams, soaps, shampoos and hair conditioners) but when almond ingredients are used in toiletries, they are labelled in Latin. Watch out for the words Prunus amygdalus amara (bitter almond) and Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond).