Food allergies affect millions of individuals worldwide, and peanut allergies are among the most common and potentially severe. However, when it comes to highly refined peanut oil, there is good news for allergy sufferers. In this blog post, we will explore why and how highly-refined peanut oil does not contain allergens, making it a safe option for those with peanut allergies.
We're a coffee and nut company... and while coffee doesn't require as much regulation when it comes to allergens, the nut side of out business calls for necessary attention to detail. Most of the questions we receive about our products are concerns about how we roast our nuts in peanut oil. We hear you! So let's take a deep dive into allergens today and hopefully you can walk away knowing we're doing our best to keep you safe.
The "Big 9"
The FDA's "big 9" allergies refer to the most common food allergens that must be clearly labeled on packaged food products sold in the United States. We use almost all of these in our products- excluding fish. These allergens account for the majority of food allergy reactions people experience. The "big 9" allergies recognized by the FDA are:
- Milk: This includes cow's milk and products derived from it, such as cheese, butter, and yogurt.
- Eggs: This includes eggs in their various forms, such as whole eggs, egg whites, and egg yolks.
- Fish: This includes all fish species, both finned and shellfish.
- Crustacean shellfish: This includes crustaceans like shrimp, crab, and lobster.
- Tree nuts: This includes various nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, and Brazil nuts.
- Peanuts: Despite being classified as legumes, peanuts are treated separately due to their high allergenicity.
- Wheat: This includes common wheat and its derivatives, like flour, bread, and pasta.
- Soy: This includes soybeans and products made from them, like soy milk, tofu, and soy sauce.
- Sesame: This includes sesame seeds and products containing sesame, such as tahini and sesame oil.
At Ferris, we understand the importance of handling and securing allergens throughout our facility, which is why we take great measures to control and manage those ingredients. Utilizing practices such as color-coding and equipment sanitation, we are audited annually to ensure we're maintaining proper procedures to keep us (and you) safe.
Understanding Peanut Allergies
Peanut allergies occur when the immune system mistakenly identifies proteins in peanuts as harmful substances. For some individuals, even trace amounts of peanut proteins can trigger allergic reactions, ranging from mild symptoms like hives to life-threatening anaphylaxis.
At Ferris, we're very aware of this concern. Working within the nut and allergen industry has made us experts on this. Our internal Quality Team is hard at work every day constantly testing for safety throughout our manufacturing. Within our facility, we control these allergens with proper color coding and labeling. Sanitation procedures are in place to address the prevention of allergen-to-allergen cross contact and allergen to non-allergen cross contact. For example, each individual piece of equipment has its own sanitation work instructions and verification procedures are addressed via standard operating procedures.
Refining Process and Allergen Removal
Highly refined peanut oil undergoes an extensive manufacturing process that effectively removes the proteins responsible for triggering peanut allergies. The refining process typically involves mechanical and chemical processes such as pressing, filtering, and purification, which help eliminate impurities and allergenic components.
The allergenic proteins present in peanuts are typically found in the solid portion of the peanut, known as the protein fraction. During the refining process, this protein fraction is separated and removed from the oil. This extraction method significantly reduces the presence of allergenic proteins, ensuring that the final product contains minimal traces, if any at all.
Heat and pressure play crucial roles in the refining process of peanut oil. These factors help break down and denature the proteins, rendering them inactive and less likely to cause an allergic reaction. The high temperatures used during refining effectively destroy the structural integrity of the allergenic proteins, making them non-allergenic.
Stringent Quality Control Measures
To ensure the safety of consumers, reputable manufacturers of highly refined peanut oil adhere to stringent quality control measures. These measures include regular testing and analysis to verify the absence of allergenic proteins. Companies invest in advanced testing methods, such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests, to detect even trace amounts of allergens and maintain a consistently safe product.
Labeling and Regulations
Regulatory agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States, have specific guidelines and labeling requirements for highly refined peanut oil. In many jurisdictions, highly refined oils are not considered major allergens and may not be required to be labeled as containing peanuts. However, it is essential to read product labels carefully and consult with medical professionals if there are any concerns or doubts.
While highly refined peanut oil itself is unlikely to contain allergenic proteins, there is a possibility of cross-contamination during processing and manufacturing if peanuts are also processed in the same facility. It is crucial for individuals with peanut allergies to be aware of this risk and look for products that explicitly state they are processed in peanut-free facilities.
For individuals with peanut allergies, highly refined peanut oil offers a safe alternative for culinary and dietary purposes. Through a rigorous refining process, allergenic proteins are effectively removed, making the oil highly unlikely to trigger an allergic reaction. Nonetheless, it is crucial to remain vigilant, read labels, and seek professional advice when unsure. Always prioritize your safety and well-being when managing food allergies.
For more information, please visit our FAQ Page.
Disclaimer: This blog post provides general information and should not replace professional medical advice. If you have concerns or questions about your specific allergy situation, please consult with a healthcare professional.