Eating Well


Peanut Oil: No Allergens

Since peanut oil is pressed from peanuts, some have questioned if peanut oil also contains peanut allergens. This question has confused many who would like to enjoy a Sichuan stir-fry, deep-fried turkey, or other foods cooked in peanut oil.

The fact is that highly refined peanut oil is different from peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut flour when it comes to allergy. This is because most peanut oil undergoes a refining process, in which it is purified, refined, bleached, and deodorized. When peanut oil is correctly processed and becomes highly refined, the proteins in the oil, which are the components in the oil that can cause allergic reaction, are removed. This makes the peanut oil allergen-free! The vast majority of peanut oil that is used in foodservice and by consumers in the U.S. is processed and is considered highly refined.

The FDA Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 and the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) indicate that highly refined oils are not major food allergens.

The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act states:
"(qq) The term `major food allergen' means any of the following:

  1. Milk, egg, fish (e.g., bass, flounder, or cod), Crustacean shellfish (e.g., crab, lobster, or shrimp), tree nuts (e.g., almonds, pecans, or walnuts), wheat, peanuts, and soybeans.
  2. A food ingredient that contains protein derived from a food specified in paragraph (1), except the following:
    1. Any highly refined oil derived from a food specified in paragraph (1) and any ingredient derived from such highly refined oil.
    2. A food ingredient that is exempt under paragraph (6) or (7) of section 403(w)."

Unrefined, “gourmet”, “aromatic”, or cold pressed oils are the oils that may still contain the proteins that cause allergy. They can also be referred to as “crude” oil. The use of these specialty oils is limited, however, it should be recognized that not all available peanut oil is highly refined. If an allergic individual is unsure as to whether a product contains or was fried in highly refined peanut oil, that individual should ask the manufacturer or restaurant for clarification.

According to the Food Allergy Anaphylaxis Network, “Studies show that most allergic individuals can safely eat peanut oil (not cold pressed, expelled, or extruded peanut oil - sometimes represented as gourmet oils).” They recommend that allergic individuals consult a physician regarding whether or not to avoid peanut oil.

One high quality, controlled human trial published in the British Medical Journal in 1997 looked at the use of refined peanut oil by 60 peanut-allergic individuals. The study monitored individuals with severe peanut allergy and showed that they had no reactions to highly refined peanut oil. Researchers concluded that the consumption of refined peanut oil did not pose risk to any of the subjects. Later, in 2000, a study that looked at the allergenicity of refined vegetable oils concluded; “peanut oil presents no risk of provoking allergic reactions in the overwhelming majority of susceptible people.” Additional human trials that test highly refined oils in peanut and nut-allergic individuals are critical as this will keep research current and will help to corroborate these findings.

Click here to see more by downloading the fact sheet on peanut allergy.

To download the full White Paper on Peanut Allergy, click here.

Peanut Oil and Allergens