An estimated 0.6% of Americans have a peanut allergy and need to avoid peanuts. Thanks to the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, peanuts—and other top food allergens including milk, eggs, treenuts, shellfish, wheat, and soy—must be listed on food labels. Be sure to read those labels—especially on commercially baked goods including granola and protein bars.
What can kids eat to replace peanut butter?
almond butter, cashew butter or other nut butters (if no allergies to tree nuts),
sunbutter (from sunflower seeds)
Hummus and low fat cheese are other options that, like peanut butter, are convenient, easy to make into a sandwich, and are inexpensive.
In schools, educating kids and parents is preferable to banning peanuts and peanut butter, because bans can give a false sense of security. Students need to be taught:
• do not share food.
• do not bring peanut-containing foods into classroom activities (like birthday parties).
• do not eat on the bus.
Schools can set aside an allergen-free table in the cafeteria.
Researchers are currently trying to figure out if early introduction of peanuts in childhood is preferable to avoidance, and if kids with allergies can become more tolerant by being given small amounts of peanuts over the course of months and years until they can safely tolerate a standard serving.
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