Peanut Oil: Refined vs Crude and the Implications for Peanut Allergies
Is peanut oil safe for people with peanut allergies? Good question. Allergists and other medical professionals state that it depends on whether the peanut oil has been refined–highly processed to remove peanut proteins–or whether the oil has been simply cold-pressed to extract the oil. Here at Nima, we decided to sleuth out this question for ourselves. Keep reading to learn more about the differences between the two oils and their effects on people with peanut allergies.
Refined Peanut Oil
Refined peanut oil is oil that has been separated from peanut proteins using mechanical and chemical processes. First, peanuts are steamed and crushed at high temperatures before the resulting oil is degummed, neutralized, bleached, and deodorized, removing virtually all allergens.
According to the FDA, refined peanut oil is generally considered safe for people with peanut allergies as a result of the refining process, which removes almost all peanut protein from the oil. Even though reactions to refined peanut oil that have been reported are generally mild and non-life threatening, it’s important to read labels, contact manufacturers, and check with a physician before consuming refined peanut oil if you have a peanut allergy. And, while checking for peanut allergens using your Nima is a good habit to practice, remember that the Nima Peanut Sensor does not detect highly refined peanut oil.
Foods Made with Refined Peanut Oil
The low cost, mild flavor, and high smoking point of peanut oil makes it a popular oil choice for restaurants. Major fast food chains that serve fried foods, such as Five Guys and Chick-fil-A, use refined peanut oil to fry foods like french fries and chicken. Peanut oil is also commonly used in Chinese, South Asian, and Southeast Asian cuisines.
Crude Peanut Oil
Crude peanut oil is oil that has not undergone refining processes and still contains peanut protein. Other variations of this oil include names such as “extruded,” “cold-pressed,” “gourmet,” “aromatic,” and “expeller pressed oil.” All indicate that the oil has been simply pressed rather than additionally steamed and chemically treated like that of refined peanut oil.
The low processing temperatures mean that these oils retain more of their flavor, aroma, and nutritional value. This means that crude peanut oils may retain enough peanut protein to trigger reactions for people with peanut allergies.
Foods Made with Crude Peanut Oil
Crude peanut oil is generally considered a specialty oil and is used to enhance foods (similar to the way sesame oil is used) with its deep, nutty aroma and flavor. Some dishes that frequently contain crude peanut oil are stir-fries, sauces, salad dressings, and marinades.
Because it still contains high concentrations of peanut proteins, the Nima Peanut Sensor can detect crude peanut oil.
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What are your experiences with different peanut oils and peanut allergies? Let us know in the comments below!