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SURVEY: Restaurants are highest-risk area for peanut exposure

In August, we conducted a survey of a subsection of people on our waitlist who monitor peanut intake and consumption. We wanted to understand for whom they monitor peanuts, top concerns and how often they might be negatively impacted by unintended exposure.

This data underscores how the world can be a tricky place to navigate for all those who avoid peanuts.

Top Findings -Leaving the house can be tough: the top spots for unintentional exposure are restaurants and friends and family members’ houses. -The risk of exposure is real and potentially frequent: 18 percent are getting exposed monthly or even more often. -They don’t let peanuts hold them back: Despite the risk, 82 percent of the people who actively avoid peanuts still dine out once a month or more. -Sweets are high-risk foods: Baked goods, desserts, candy and chocolate are the top things people would test for the presence of peanuts.

Where are people getting unintentionally exposed to peanuts?

No place is fully safe, with even work zapping people 15 percent of the time. However, people are most frequently getting contaminated by accidental exposure at restaurants. Others’ houses can also be extremely dangerous and nerve-wracking, so when a friend tells you they have an allergy, it’s so they can avoid some terrible reactions.

unintentional peanut exposure chart

How often are people getting unintentionally exposed?

The good news is that people get unintentionally exposed not too often – less than 29 percent on a more than quarterly basis. However, given the strength of reaction, even 29 percent is too often. Five percent say the exposure is happening a couple times a week.

How often do people who monitor peanuts in their diets eat outside the home?

We wanted to understand how often people who monitored peanuts ate outside the home. People are eating out a couple times a month or more, more than 75 percent of the time, so group is not closed off to the outside world.

How often do people get sick from unintended peanut exposure outside the home?

The downside is how often people are getting sick when they eat outside the home. The good news is that more than half of those who eat out more once every 2 – 3 months or more frequently say it’s close to never that they get sick outside the home. Still, 8 percent are getting sick on at least a monthly basis.

Which foods are people most interested in testing for the presence of peanuts?

It’s not surprising to see that the top items are all ones where peanuts are a common ingredient, or where cross-contamination may occur.

Other included: anything fried in oil, ice cream, granola, takeout food, cleaning supplies and packaged foods.

Sixty-five percent would also be interested in testing household products.

For whom are people monitoring peanuts?

Despite our cultural association with kids in school avoiding peanuts, there are plenty of adults who avoid it for themselves, too. (Children eventually grow up!)

-59% – Myself -44% – My children -5% – My spouse/partner -5% – Others in household

Who has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy?

That said, not everyone has been diagnosed with a peanut allergy. Some folks wrote in and said they avoided peanuts for other reasons, such as Hashimoto’s or autism.

-48% – Myself -43% – My children -10% – No one! -4% – Other child in household -3% – Other adults in the house (including partners/spouses)

Top Reactions

Reactions for peanuts are pretty darned severe. If that unintentional exposure occurs, most commonly people are having an anaphylactic reaction, while nearly half have a scratchy throat. That other bucket is fairly large and includes other less-then-desirable effects.

-60% – Anaphylactic reaction -50% – Itch in or around throat -44% – Itchy skin/hives/spots -37% – Nausea -35% – Other -18% – Stopped up nose

Other included: bloating, diarrhea, stomachaches, migraines/severe headaches, weakness, general body inflammation.

Also, 74 percent carry an Epi-pen with 90 percent having used it more than three months ago, which means that 10 percent have used one in the past three months.

Gender

-74% Female -24% Male

Age

Average 38.4 years old, with 80 percent between 25 and 54.

Methodology

A subsection of members of the Nima waitlist who had indicated they avoid peanuts were solicited to take this survey via email.

Survey was an online survey.

Total completed surveys – 155

If you cite this data, please include: Nima Peanut Survey, August 2015.

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