I was just reading a Q&A on Alisa Fleming’s excellent Go Dairy Free site. The question was:
We recently found out our son has multiple food allergies, including tree nuts and dairy. A lot of the coconut products say “contains tree nuts.” Are these products safe for our son, or should we avoid them?
Alisa advised, sensibly, that if the child had multiple allergies it would be prudent to test him specifically for coconut but she went on to point out that although there is no research linking peanut or tree nut allergy to coconut allergy, and that coconut is not, botanically, a nut at all but a fruit, the US FDA (Food and Drink Administration) requires coconut to be labelled as a tree nut.
Obsessed, possibly, by the word nut, they also require beech, ginkgo, shea, butternut, hickory, chinquapin, lychee nuts and pili nuts to be labelled as nuts even though there are no records of anyone ever having an allergic reaction to any of them…
To read the whole post click here.
However, to be fair to the FDA, sorting out what is a nut and what is a fruit is not that easy as they are, effectively, the same thing… We tried to work it out a while ago and although Cressida made an excellent stab at it, I am not sure that we were very much wise at the end… If you would like to read her findings click here.