What causes brazil nut allergy

There’s another type of food allergy known as a non-IgE-mediated food allergy, caused by diverse cells in the immune system.

This is much harder to diagnose as there’s no test to accurately confirm non-IgE-mediated food allergy.

This type of reaction is largely confined to the skin and digestive system, causing symptoms such as heartburn, indigestion and eczema.

In babies, a non-IgE-mediated food allergy can also cause diarrhoea and reflux, where stomach acid leaks up into the throat.

Who’s at risk?

Exactly what causes the immune system to error harmless proteins as a threat is unclear but some things are thought to increase your risk of a food allergy.

Family history

If you own a parent, brother or sister with an allergic condition – such as asthma, eczema or a food allergy – you own a slightly higher risk of developing a food allergy.

However, you may not develop the same food allergy as your family members.

Other allergic conditions

Children who have atopic dermatitis (eczema) in early life are more likely to develop a food allergy.

Food additives

It’s rare for someone to have an allergic reaction to food additives. However, certain additives may cause a flare-up of symptoms in people with pre-existing conditions.


Sulphur dioxide (E220) and other sulphites (from numbers E221 to E228) are used as preservatives in a wide range of foods, especially soft drinks, sausages, burgers, and dried fruits and vegetables.

Sulphur dioxide is produced naturally when wine and beer are made, and is sometimes added to wine.

Anyone who has asthma or allergic rhinitis may react to inhaling sulphur dioxide.

A few people with asthma own had an attack after drinking acidic drinks containing sulphites, but this isn’t thought to be extremely common.

Food labelling rules require pre-packed food sold in the UK, and the relax of the European Union, to show clearly on the label if it contains sulphur dioxide or sulphites at levels above 10mg per kg or per litre.


Benzoic acid (E210) and other benzoates (E211 to E215, E218 and E219) are used as food preservatives to prevent yeasts and moulds growing, most commonly in soft drinks. They happen naturally in fruit and honey.

Benzoates could make the symptoms of asthma and eczema worse in children who already own these conditions.

Sheet final reviewed: 15 April 2019
Next review due: 15 April 2022

Pocket K No.

53: Anti-Allergy Biotech Crops

The human body has an immune system that naturally combats dangers to excellent health such as infection and allergy. According to Food Allergy Information, 1 to 5% of the global population has exhibited allergy to food.1 About 90% of allergic reactions are caused by eight types of food: eggs, milk, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soy.

What causes brazil nut allergy

These foods may cause mild to severe reactions such as rashes, stomach upset, breathing and swallowing problems, and dizziness. The whole body can be at risk especially during anaphylaxis the most severe allergic reaction.2 Allergy is a serious condition, and thus introduction of novel food products such as GM food are carefully studied.

The rise in food allergy cases

The number of people with food allergies has risen sharply over the past few decades and, although the reason is unclear, other allergic conditions such as atopic dermatitis own also increased.

One theory behind the rise is that a typical child’s diet has changed considerably over the final 30 to 40 years.

Another theory is that children are increasingly growing up in «germ-free» environments.

This means their immune systems may not get sufficient early exposure to the germs needed to develop properly. This is known as the hygiene hypothesis.

Tree Nuts

Several types of Tree Nuts

Nuts represent one of the most significant group of food allergens worldwide. The group comprises a large range of genuine nuts (e.g. Brazil nut, chestnut, hazelnut, pine nut, walnut). Some fruits and legumes are commonly considered to be nuts (e.g. almond, pecan nut, coconut, cashew, peanut).

Nuts are known to be one of the most potent allergenic foods in terms of the quantity required to elicit a response and the severity of reactions.

The estimated prevalence of nut allergy in the United States is about 1.1% of the general population7. Allergy to nuts often involves severe multisystemic and respiratory symptoms and occasionally fatal anaphylactic reactions are observed. A recent analysis of fatal food reactions in the United States showed peanuts (63%) and nuts (31%) as a major cause.

What causes brazil nut allergy

In patients over six years of age nuts accounted for every fatalities8. However, the most frequent symptoms are skin reactions9.

The allergens responsible for nut allergy are diverse and include the seed storage proteins (vicilins, legumins, albumins), plant defense related proteins and profilins. Nut allergic individuals often react to several diverse nuts, suggesting that cross-reactivity between nut allergens is a common phenomenon10,11. For example allergy to cashew and pistachio are often associated, probably for this reason. Considerable differences in the occurrence of nut allergy between diverse geographical regions own been observed.

While peanut is the most frequent cause of food allergy in the United States and France, this is not the case in Spain or Norway12,13. A more detailed description of allergy to peanut is found here.

Since adverse reactions to nuts and peanut can be triggered by minimal amounts of the food (sometimes even by skin contact or inhalation), strict avoidance is imperative. It may be possible to avoid consumption nut containing food products, but cross-contamination of manufactured foods, especially confectionary, presents a much greater challenge to manage.

According to the EU Labeling Directive 2003/89/EG and Codex Alimentarius allergen labeling recommendations for pre-packaged food every products containing diverse types of nuts should be labeled as such.

In the EU the group of nuts comprises almonds, Brazil nut, cashew nut, hazelnut, macadamia nut, pecan nut, pistachio, and walnut.

For more detailed information on these foods please follow the links:

Updated 10 March, 2014

How to avoid tree nuts

To prevent a possible reaction, avoid tree nuts and nut products.Because even trace amounts can trigger an allergic reaction, avoidance is key to preventing reactions and serious health consequences.

What causes brazil nut allergy

Reading food labels, asking questions and self-advocating are the best ways to avoid tree nuts. Because tree nuts are one of the Top 8 allergens, the FDA requires that every packaged food products clearly list them as an ingredient.Learn how to read a food labelfor tree nut ingredients before consuming packaged food, and be certain to always check for precautionary “may contain” statements with cross-contamination warnings. Note that manufacturers are not legally required to label for potential cross-contamination.

Tree nuts can hide in some surprising places. Alcoholic beverages love amaretto (almond) and Frangelico (hazelnut) may contain nuts or nut flavoring —the expression “botanicals” or “natural flavoring” may mask nuts.

What causes brazil nut allergy

Call a manufacturer if you are unsure about the ingredients. Tree nut oils such as shea butter and argan oil may also be used in beauty products, lotions, soaps, hair care and cosmetics. Read labels carefully before using these products as well.

A food allergy is caused by your immune system handling harmless proteins in certain foods as a threat.

What causes brazil nut allergy

It releases a number of chemicals, which trigger an allergic reaction.


In children, the foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are:

  1. soya
  2. wheat
  3. eggs
  4. milk – if a kid has an allergy to cows’ milk, they’re probably allergic to every types of milk, as well as infants’ and follow-on formula
  5. peanuts

In adults, the foods that most commonly cause an allergic reaction are:

  1. tree nuts – such as walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds and pistachios
  2. fish
  3. peanuts
  4. shellfish – such as crab, lobster and prawns

However, any type of food can potentially cause an allergy.

Some people own allergic reactions to:

  1. sesame seeds
  2. pine nuts (a type of seed)
  3. celery or celeriac – this can sometimes cause anaphylactic shock
  4. mustard
  5. gluten – a type of protein found in cereals
  6. fruit and vegetables – these generally only cause symptoms affecting the mouth, lips and throat (oral allergy syndrome)
  7. meat – some people are allergic to just one type of meat, while others are allergic to a range of meats; a common symptom is skin irritation

The immune system

The immune system protects the body by producing specialised proteins called antibodies.

What causes brazil nut allergy

Antibodies identify potential threats to your body, such as bacteria and viruses. They signal your immune system to release chemicals to kill the threat and prevent the spread of infection.

In the most common type of food allergy, an antibody known as immunoglobulin E (IgE) mistakenly targets a certain protein found in food as a threat. IgE can cause several chemicals to be released, the most significant being histamine.


Histamine causes most of the typical symptoms that happen during an allergic reaction. For example, histamine:

  1. affects nerves in the skin, causing itchiness
  2. causes little blood vessels to expand and the surrounding skin to become red and swell up
  3. increases the quantity of mucus produced in your nose lining, which causes itching and a burning sensation

In most food allergies, the release of histamine is limited to certain parts of the body, such as your mouth, throat or skin.

In anaphylaxis, the immune system goes into overdrive and releases large amounts of histamine and numerous other chemicals into your blood.

This causes the wide range of symptoms associated with anaphylaxis.