23 Non-Food Places You May Find Hidden Peanuts

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If you or a loved one has a peanut allergy, you're almost certainly accustomed to checking ingredient labels for peanut ingredients. But did you realize peanut-derived ingredients — ranging from peanut oil to shells — also can be found in multiple non-food items?

In fact, peanuts crop up in some truly surprising places. This obviously isn't a problem if you're not allergic to them, but for those who are allergic (especially those who have a severe peanut allergy), these various uses in non-food items make the world a much more dangerous place.

So Where Do We Find Peanuts?

It might not surprise you to run across peanuts in bird seed — in fact, you can probably even see them in the bag, and know to stay away. Likewise, peanut shells and skins also are used to provide fiber roughage in livestock feed.

But what about cosmetics? While you wouldn't expect to find peanuts in your soap, shampoo or body lotion, peanut-derived ingredients are not uncommon in those products. You even can find peanut shells in artificial fireplace logs.

All in all, I found 23 non-food products that can be made with peanuts.

Bear in mind that not all products on the following will definitely contain peanuts — in some cases, peanuts aren't currently used, or have just been used in research projects. But I'm providing you with the list so that you can do your own due diligence in order to keep yourself (or your peanut-allergic loved one) safe.

Non-Food Items Possibly Containing Peanuts

Here are the various places that peanut shells or skins may possibly be used in non-food items:

  1. Kitty litter (Blue Buffalo brand's Blue Naturally Fresh cat litter used to be made from peanut shells, but is currently made from walnut shells)
  2. Paper (scientists have explored this, but I couldn't find any instance where it's being done commercially)
  3. Stuffing for beanbags or stuffed animals (this doesn't appear to be common, but it crops up occasionally and is still something to watch out for)
  1. Wallboard (again, this isn't common)
  2. Artificial fireplace logs (these logs use "ground biomass," which can include ground-up nut shells)
  3. Livestock feed

Peanuts themselves may be ingredients in:

  1. Axle grease (George Washington Carver first used peanuts for this purpose, although petroleum-based products are much more common these days)
  2. Bird seed
  3. Bleach (color-safe varieties, not chlorine-based bleach)
  4. Cosmetics (watch for ingredients with "Arachis Hypogaea," which means peanut)
  5. Detergent (while unusual, it's possible to find peanuts in here, too)
  6. Explosives (peanuts can be used to make nitroglycerin)
  7. Face creams (as with cosmetics, look for "Arachis Hypogaea")
  8. Ink (George Washington Carver started this, too, but it's not much found in the modern world)
  9. Linoleum (yet another George Washington Carver invention)
  10. Medicine (make sure to tell your pharmacist you're allergic to peanuts)
  11. Metal polish (seems to be most common in homemade polishes)
  12. Pet food (dogs like the taste of peanut butter, and several common dog treats come in peanut flavor)
  1. Paint (highly unlikely but possible)
  2. Rubber (George Washington Carver experimented with this, but I couldn't find any evidence that it's ever been done commercially)
  3. Shampoo (watch for those pesky Arachis Hypogaea ingredients)
  4. Shaving cream
  5. Soap

What's the True Risk?

As you can see, some of these places are far less likely than others — in fact, a good percentage of them likely never made it out of George Washington Carver's laboratory. But others (pet food and cosmetics come to mind) are a much bigger risk.

So what can you do to stay safe if you or a loved one has a peanut allergy? Well, you need to keep in mind that peanuts can be found in more than just food items, stay vigilant, read ingredients labels, and call the manufacturer if there's any ambiguity.

Sources:

American peanut council. Non-Food Uses for Peanuts. http://www.peanutsusa.org.uk/Europe/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.page&pid=61

Wood, Robert. Food Allergens in Non-Food Items. http://drrobertwood.com/allergens-in-nonfood-items.shtml

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