No peanuts or peanut based products please! We have all seen this request, whether it be in our children’s schools or elsewhere. Gone are the days of sending your kids into school with the hastily prepared peanut butter sandwich for their lunch. 

The question is why, over the last few decades have we suddenly discovered the potential deadliness of the peanut to a staggeringly growing number of people? So much so, that when preparing foods, we automatically ask if anyone has a peanut allergy. Schools are almost always a nut free zone in so many countries and teachers are trained in the use of an epipen, as undoubtedly they will have a child with a severe peanut allergy that can send them into an anaphylactic shock. We are working in a state of fear and the sad fact is, that it is due to the humble peanut!

The interesting thing is that there is one country in the world where peanut allergies are very rare, Israel. Gideon Lack, a paediatric allergist at King’s College London, visited the Sea of Galilee in Israel with some friends in 2003 and noticed this contrast. He decided to study it. He realized that the Jewish population in Israel and the UK often shared genetics yet the instances of peanut allergy in the UK are far, far higher than those in Israel, so it wasn’t a genetically caused problem.

He carried on studying the issue and found the culprit ……. Bamba! For those who have not experienced Bamba it is a staple diet for children in Israel. It is one of the first foods that most Israeli children are introduced to. Bamba is a puffed peanut snack, easy for the infant to grasp and melts in the mouth and yes it is peanut based! 

Whilst children in Israel are introduced to peanut based products from an early age, those in the UK are not. Parents do not feed their children peanut based foods from an early age. This is partly due to the fear of a scary peanut reaction. However, as long as the nuts are not whole, there does not seem to be any advice that one should not feed our children nut based products from 6 months, the normal age to start weaning. 

Dr Gideon Lack came to the conclusion that it is vital to introduce children to peanut based products from an early age if you want to diminish the chances of them having a severe peanut allergy.

The issue remains, how do you feed your child peanut based products from an early age. Peanuts in their raw form are a choking hazard. Many peanut based snacks that children can hold and feed themselves and will melt in their mouth are full of nasties including high doses of salt.

Companies such as HaSadeh have addressed this problem and produce peanut snacks that have no added sugar, low sodium, no chemicals or preservatives, use the highest quality ingredients, yet still taste great and can be self fed. They are sold around the world as Cheeky Monkey Peanut Butter Puffs.

So it seems that if we follow health guidance, peanut based products are not just a convenient food  to feed our young children but can actually be really beneficial in terms of nutritional value and the development of a peanut allergy.