Not a great way to start a vacation…
If only someone had told me that it is important to know the Latin names for food allergens. On our very first full day of our vacation in Hawaii many years ago, my husband and I diligently applied sunblock on our children’s arms and legs so that they would not be sunburned from our day’s adventure. Imagine my horror of seeing one of my boys covered from head to toes in hives! We had no idea what happened or why but I rushed back to our hotel room with my little guy, gave him Benadryl, washed off all the sunblock, and applied cold compresses while watching him carefully while he slept off the antihistamines. No more sunblock for the rest of the trip!!
It didn’t occur to me that the hives could have been a food allergy related issue and went to see our dermatologist about the incident who advised that he could have been allergic to any of the chemicals in the sunblock, so it’s best to minimize our usage of sunblock in general and use only zinc oxide or titanium oxide based sunscreens. Eventually I found Vanicream sunblock which is very hypoallergenic and works for our family. But not knowing what happened and why bothered me for years. It wasn’t until I searched online that l discovered that both types of sunblocks we used caused problems for other people with peanut allergy possibly due to an ingredient called “arachidyl propionate.” When I called the manufacturers, they denied that the chemical was derived from peanuts (Latin name Arachis hypogea). Since I had long since thrown away the product, I didn’t pursue the issue and continue to avoid any products that have an ingredient that is similar to Arachis.
Why have a list of Latin names?
Top 8 food allergens are required to be listed in food products using clear and easy to understand English. However, non-food products such as shampoos, lotions, make up, medication, etc. do not have the same requirement. Ingredients may be listed using a scientific name. A list of Latin names of some common food allergens that allows me to cross reference whether an ingredient might be derived from a food allergen. My friend Dani asked me to share my list recently, which I did but later decided to update the readability of the list and add a few more allergens.
Latin names of common food allergens:
I have included peanuts and tree nuts, some of our family’s allergens, and some foods that are commonly used in products but this list is by no means comprehensive, please ask your medical professional if you have any questions. If you want to look up the Latin names of other foods, I was able to find a lot of great information via the InformAll Allergenic Database. I’ve created some graphics that you can copy and save from Nut Free Wok’s Facebook page: Latin Names for Peanuts and Tree Nuts, Latin Names for Allergens in Products.
UPDATE: People with peanut allergies need to be aware that lupin (lupin albus) have been associated with allergic reactions.
UPDATE: I found the FDA’s official list of tree nuts, which includes some non-edible tree nuts that might have some non-food use. As the list is growing, I highlighted the nuts in a brownish nutty color (even though I want to highlight them in RED!).
Almond (sweet) – Prunus amygdalus dulcis
Almond (bitter) — Prunus amygdalus amara
Apple – Malus domestica
Apricot – Prunus armeniaca
Avocado – Persea americana, P. gratissima
Banana – Musa acuminata; Musa balbisiana(hybrid)
Barley – Hordeum vulgare
Bell pepper – Capsicum annuum
Brazil nut – Bertholletia excelsa
Buckwheat – Fagopyrum esculentum
Butternut – Juglans cinerea
Camomile – Matricaria chamomilla
Cashew – Anacardium occidentale
Celery – Apium graveolens
Chestnut – Castanea sativa and other Castanea species
Chickpea – Cicer arietinum
Coconut – Cocos nucifera
Corn – Zea mays
Crab – Castanea sativa
Egg – Ovum (hen’s egg – Gallus Gallus domesticus)
Ginko nut — Ginkgo biloba
Hazelnut/Filbert – Corylus avellana
Kiwi fruit – Actinidia deliciosa (green), A. arguta (baby), A. chinensis (gold)
Lobster – Homarus americanus
Lupin – Lupinus Albus
Lychee — Litchi chinensis
Macadamia/Bush nut – Macadamia ternifolia, m. integrifolia
Mango – Mangifera indica
Milk – lac (cow’s milk – Bos taurus)
Mustard – Brassica nigra, Sinapis alba
Oat – Avena sativa
Peach – Prunus persica
Pecan (Hickory) – Carya illinoinensis
Peanut – Arachis hypogea
Pili nut – Canarium ovatum
Pine nut — Pinus pinea
Pistachio – Pistacia vera
Rice – Oryza sativa
Sesame – Sesamum indicum
Shea – Vitellaria paradoxa (Butyrospermum parkii)
Soy – Glycine max, Dolichos soja
Squid – Todarodes pacificus
Sunflower – Helianthus annuus
Tomato – Lycopersicon esculentum
Walnut – Juglans regia and other Juglan species
Wheat – Triticum aestivum, T. durum and other Triticum species