Be Careful with Pea Protein for Children with Peanut Allergies

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Pea protein has become increasingly common these days as a plant-based protein source. While it may provide an environmentally- and animal-friendly source of protein, it could pose problems for people who are allergic to peanuts. Both peas and peanuts are in the same legume family. If your child is allergic to peanuts, be mindful of the potential risk of consuming pea protein.

The Connection between Peanut and Pea Allergies

According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE), a peanut allergy does not necessarily correlate to another legume allergy such as an allergy to peas. However, it’s possible for some peanut-allergic individuals to react to pea protein as well. It is estimated that 95 percent of those with peanut allergies will be okay with peas, but the rest could face a potentially life-threating reaction to pea protein.

An Increasing Risk from Pea Protein

Pea protein is quickly popping up throughout society in restaurants, supermarkets and protein powders. This is because it offers a plant-based protein alternative for meat- and dairy-free products during a time when people are trying to find new ways to rely less on animal-based products. This protein source is affordable and sustainable, which makes it a smart choice for manufacturers and the environment.

This increase in pea protein may be positive in some ways, but it does make food increasingly risky for those with a peanut allergy. Another concern is that manufacturers are adding pea protein to allergy-friendly snacks. It has also been added to real meat products, such as frozen chicken strips and processed meats, so the risk goes beyond vegan and vegetarian products.

It’s worth noting that pea protein is also added to various grain-free varieties of pet food. This is important to be aware of since young children sometimes decide to try tasting pet food. Also, we don’t yet know too much about pea protein allergic reactions, so it’s good to be prepared for the possibility that touching the pet food could potentially cause a reaction as can sometimes happen with peanuts.

Potential Reactions to Pea Protein

Pea protein is a highly concentrated ingredient from peas. Because of the concentration, it can lead to a more serious allergic reaction than someone would have from eating regular peas. This means that even if your child has been okay eating peas, it’s possible they may react to concentrated pea protein.  

While it is not considered common, there can be cross-reactivity between peas and peanuts. One study found clinically significant cross-reactivity between the two legumes. Also, there have been cases of anaphylaxis to pea protein found in foods. This is the most severe form of allergic reaction, which is life-threatening.

To be prepared for this potential threat to your child with a peanut allergy, talk to your allergist. They may suggest you do an oral food challenge to see if there is a reaction to pea protein with the support of medical professionals on hand in case your child reacts. Also, your child should always have access to an epinephrine auto-injector in case they become exposed to something that could cause anaphylaxis.

Pea protein is a new food trend that is increasingly popular. Because it could potentially pose a problem to those with food allergies, it’s important to be aware. This is another ingredient to check for on food labels if there is reason to suspect your child could have a problem with this potential allergen.

Have you or your child ever had a reaction to pea protein? Have you discussed this with your allergist? Please share your experiences in the comments below!


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