Is Nutella® Safe for nut or peanut allergy?

For more than 60 years, Nutella® has been on the breakfast tables of millions worldwide. You might use it as a treat alternative to nut spreads by adding it to pancakes with a dollop of ice cream on top or spreading it on toast. This makes it one of the most popular and iconic chocolate-hazelnut spread in the world. But, in today’s blog we question, is Nutella® safe if you have a peanut or nut allergy?

You might assume the answer is straightforward, given that “nut” is in the name. However, some people with a peanut allergy have shared on social media that they are a big fan of Nutella without any adverse reactions. However, as an Expert Dietitian for children with food allergies, I will give you the facts and let you know whether you can eat Nutella® if you have a nut or peanut allergy. 

What are the ingredients in Nutella®

First let’s start with the ingredients of Nutella® . The company claims to create its unmistakable recipe by combining only seven carefully selected quality ingredients: sugar, palm oil, hazelnuts, skimmed milk powder, cocoa, soya lecithin as an emulsifier, and vanillin as an artificial flavour.

They state that; ‘13% of the recipe for Nutella comes from hazelnuts, which means that, for example, a 750g (26.5oz) jar of Nutella® contains approximately 97 hazelnuts.’

From the label, Nutella® states that it contains; tree nuts (hazelnuts), milk & soy as allergens

Can I eat Nutella® if I have a nut allergy?

If you are allergic to hazelnuts, do not eat Nutella since it contains 13% hazelnuts. Eating Nutella could cause a severe allergic reaction and therefore I would advise you to avoid this product. If you only have an allergy to hazelnuts then there are lots of other nut butters out there that you can try. 

Are Hazelnuts a nut?

Yes, experts classify hazelnuts in the family of nuts called ‘tree nuts’. Other tree nuts include Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts. 

Hazelnut allergy is one of the most common tree nut allergies in the UK, US and Europe but if you have an allergy to hazelnuts, this doesn’t mean that you need to avoid all these other nuts.  

When it comes to peanuts, it is important that we distinguish between tree nut products and peanut products as these are not the same thing. 

Is peanut a nut?

Despite the word ‘nut’ being in the name, peanuts are surprisingly not a nut. Peanuts belong to the legume family and grow on the ground. Tree nuts such as hazel nuts grow in trees. 

Is Nutella safe for peanut allergies?

Overall advice is that Nutella® is safe for peanut allergies.

From the label,  Nutella® and ferrerofoodservice.com state that; ‘Nutella® hazelnut spread does not contain peanuts or any peanut ingredients, nor does the product come in contact with peanuts during manufacturing.’

Despite these assurances, those with allergies should always be cautious, especially if eating Nutella outside of the house as cross-contamination could occur. 

Is Nutella safe for peanut and nut allergies?

Cross Contamination and Hazelnut Allergy

When it comes to eating out it is important to discuss with the server if you have an allergy to hazelnuts. This will help to ensure that they are aware to make your food without the risk of cross contamination. Cross contamination can occur if hazelnuts come into contact with the food you eat that is hazelnut free. 

Cross contamination can also occur during production, processing, delivery and storage of products so it is important that hospitality is aware of this. 

Tree Nut Allergies

​As mentioned previously allergies to hazelnut are one of the most common nut allergies in the UK, Europe and USA.

We generally split hazelnut allergies into primary and secondary (or Oral Allergy Syndrome) categories. Each type of allergy has distinct triggers and symptoms to be aware of. Let’s explore the differences between these two types of hazelnut allergies to better inform your dietary choices.

Primary vs Secondary Allergy to Hazelnuts

Primary Hazelnut Allergy

Primary hazelnut allergy involves a direct reaction to the proteins in hazelnuts. This type of allergy can cause severe reactions, including life-threatening anaphylaxis. Children with primary hazelnut allergies often need to carry adrenaline autoinjectors and antihistamines due to their allergy diagnosis. 

Symptoms of Primary Hazelnut Allergy:

  • Itching in the mouth, throat, eyes, ears, or skin
  • Hives (which can stay in the same area or track on the body)
  • Swelling of the lips, tongue, or face (angioedema)
  • Difficulty swallowing or hoarseness
  • Sneezing, nasal congestion, or runny nose
  • Nausea, abdominal discomfort, vomiting, or diarrhea
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Breathlessness
  • Pale skin, limpness, or lethargy

Secondary Hazelnut Allergy (Oral Allergy Syndrome)

Secondary hazelnut allergy, also known as Oral Allergy Syndrome (pollen food allergy syndrome), occurs due to cross-reactivity between hazelnut proteins and pollen allergens. This is especially common from birch, alder, and hazel trees. 

Heat and digestion often break down these hazelnut proteins, resulting in milder reactions. This type of allergy is common in people with hay fever.

Symptoms of Secondary Hazelnut Allergy:

  • Itching in the mouth, tongue, or ears
  • Itchy throat and tickly cough
  • Localised hives around the mouth
  • Mild swelling of the lips
  • Nausea or abdominal discomfort

People with secondary hazelnut allergy usually only need antihistamines to manage their symptoms. Understanding the differences between primary and secondary hazelnut allergies can help you better navigate food choices and allergy management.

Diagnosing a Tree Nut Allergy

Diagnosing a tree nut allergy in children involves a combination of steps beginning with a detailed allergy focussed history. This history should include whether any family members also have an allergy, asthma, or eczema. You should also be asked about the severity and speed of the reaction, including what specifically was eaten. 

If it suspected that your little one has an allergy to any tree nut then they may be requested to have IgE blood test or a skin prick test. 

With a blood test a small amount of blood is taken and this is checked for antibodies (IgE) to hazelnut. 

When having a skin prick test a small amounts of the extract (hazelnut) are introduced to your child’s skin to observe any allergic response. 

In cases where these tests are inconclusive but you feel your little one has reacted to hazelnut (or any tree nut) an oral food challenge may be conducted. This will be done under close medical supervision, where a child consumes increasing amounts of the suspected allergen in a controlled safe environment. 

It is crucial that tests are performed under the guidance of a healthcare professional, to ensure accurate results and manage any potential allergic reactions.

Is Nutella® safe for peanut-free schools

Short answer is no Nutella® is not safe for peanut-free schools.

Tree nut (and peanut) allergies are responsible for the some of most severe food-related allergic reactions. You may have seen in your primary school a poster stating that this school has a no-nut policy.  These policies prohibit items such as; packs of nuts or peanuts, peanut butter or Nutella® sandwiches from being brought into school grounds.

Now, should no nut policy be present in all schools? In my opinion it is very difficult to manage and also some children have multiple allergies with the most common allergy being to milk. It would be more beneficial to the school to educate around food allergy to raise awareness. 

Some airlines are also introducing similar policies for some flights. Customers with nut allergies are asked to inform airline when booking and also cabin crew when boarding the flight. An announcement may then be made informing other customers and advising that no products containing nuts will be sold or consumed onboard.

Chocolate Spread Alternative to Nutella®.

There are lots of spreads that are alternative options to Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread.  You can find those made with other types of nut butter such as almond butter. 

One favourite of mine is Sweet Freedom Choc Pot Chocolate Spread – it’s the first vegan and plant-based chocolate spread. This spread is also an alternative to Nutella® without palm oil. When looking at the ingredients label, it also states that it contains 75% less fat and half the calories of Nutella®. Win win!

The product description states the ingredients as; natural fruit extracts (carob and apple), water, cocoa, rapeseed oil, sunflower lecithin, sea salt and natural flavours. This is also stated to be free from the top 14 allergens. The manufacturer does not state however that it is free from may contains. 

Here’s some key points mentioned. 

✔️ All-natural sweetness from fruit (apples & carob)

✔️ High in fibre, only 14 calories per teaspoon

✔️ Delicious on toast, pancakes, oatcakes, and rice cakes

✔️ Perfect for healthier baking as a ready-made icing

Recipe for Homemade

Make Your Own No-Nut-Ella Spread 

For those who enjoy homemade alternatives, there are many nut-free Nutella®-style recipes available online, such as on TikTok from creators like @shiv_sewlal and @bakemehealthylove. 

These recipes often use sunflower seeds or chickpeas instead of hazelnuts and are free of refined sugar, palm oil, and preservatives.

Research from 2022, notes that sunflower seed allergy is rare, and people who are allergic to nuts usually tolerate sunflower seeds well. But, if a person has any doubts, they should speak with a medical professional.

A Simple Nut-Free Chocolate Spread Recipe:

  • 1 cup of sunflower seeds 
  • 2 tbsp of cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1.5 tbsp of coconut oil
  • Pinch of vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

*Instead of using sunflower seeds and coconut oil you could substitute this with sunflower seed butter.*  

Instructions:

  • Blend the sunflower seeds in a food processor until smooth.
  • Add cocoa powder, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and salt. Blend until creamy.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Let it come to room temperature before serving.

Conclusion: Is Nutella® Safe for Peanut or Nut Allergy?

After more than 60 years on breakfast tables around the world, Nutella® has become an iconic chocolate-hazelnut spread. Many people use Nutella® as a treat or even as a peanut butter substitute on toast or pancakes. However, when it comes to food allergy, it’s important to understand whether Nutella® is safe for children with peanut or tree nut allergies. 

Nutella® contains 13% hazelnuts, a type of tree nut, which means it is not safe for those with hazelnut allergies. Hazelnut allergies can be severe and potentially life-threatening, requiring strict avoidance of the allergen and in more severe cases may cause an anaphylactic reaction. 

Peanut allergies are different to tree nut allergy as peanuts are legumes, not tree nuts. Nutella® does not contain peanuts and according to food labels does not come into contact with peanuts during manufacturing. This means that Nutella is safe for those with hazelnut allergy, however, cross-contamination can occur. It’s always important to read ingredient labels when you shop & eat out. Discuss any food allergies with school staff or restaurant servers to ensure they are aware your child has a nut allergy. 

In summary, Nutella® is not safe for children with hazelnut allergies due to its hazelnut content. Those with peanut allergies may tolerate Nutella®, but should remain cautious due to potential cross-contamination risks. Always consult a healthcare professional to determine the best approach for managing your specific food allergies and consider nut-free alternatives if necessary.

Hannah Whittaker Dietitian Bump2baby Nutrition
Expert Pregnancy & Paediatric Dietitian at  | info@bump2babynutrition.com | Website

Hannah is an Expert Registered Dietitian specialising in Vegan Family Nutrition and Cows Milk Protein Allergy. 

She is a respected figure in the field of nutrition and a captivating speaker and sought after media spokesperson being featured in esteemed publications including the Sunday Times, Independent and Huffington Post.

Credentials

Registered Dietitian
First Class Degree in Nutrition

Experience

Over 15 years experience working in the field of nutrition
Respected Media Spokesperson both in the UK & USA; quoted online, TV and in local and international news
Writer & Researcher, supporting the BDA and PEN Nutrition

 

 

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