Imitation Almond Extract- Not Safe For Nut Allergies

Decorating By elvis Updated 20 May 2008 , 6:33pm by elvis

elvis Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:18pm
post #1 of 18

I had a call this morning from a mother whose son ate one of my cakes over the weekend. He is allergic to nuts & had a reaction. I wasn't told ahead of time about the allergy.

Anyway, even if I had known, I still would have thought it was safe to use IMITATION almond extract, which is what I always use in my cakes.

I just looked online and on one of the peanut allergy sites, it lists Imitaiton Almond as something that may contain a nut protein? The only ingredients on the bottle are Water, Alcohol & Benzaldehyde.

Anyway, the little boy is going to be fine, but he did break out into welts which I feel terrible about. Have any of you experienced this?

Thanks.

17 replies
smoore Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:34pm
post #2 of 18

My son has dairy and peanut allergies, but never reacted to almond extract ... thanks for the warning, though. It's weird how they all react differently and at different levels. It's good to remember that even though something doesn't effect my son, who has the allergy, doesn't mean it won't effect someone else.

MikeRowesHunny Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:34pm
post #3 of 18

Wow, weird and good to know! I would have just assumed that a synthetic substitute, not actually using nuts would be fine too - who knew?! Is it just the one brand or all artificial almond flavorings? You can't be held responsible for the incident though - you didn't know about the allergy and every parent who's child has a nut allergy that I know is obsessive about keeping them away from stuff they can't be 100% sure about - so I kinda blame the parent in this case!

aswartzw Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:36pm
post #4 of 18

I found this really interesting document. I had no idea there was a difference between a peanut and a tree nut allergy. Also, your extract was probably not the cause. Could it be something used in the cake was exposed to a tree nut during processing, ie. flour, etc.?


www.umass.edu/diningservices/nutrition/pdf/nut-allergy.doc

http://www.foodallergygourmet.com/Food%20Allergy/Tree%20Nut%20Allergy.htm

Further reading says different brands include the tree nut allergen while others do not. Seems to me it would be better off contacting the brands directly to find which ones do not and use that for future tree-nut allergies.

elvis Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:41pm
post #5 of 18

Yeah, I always worry a little when I take "allergy cakes", even though I tell the customers that I cannot guarantee anything 100%. This incident just makes me worry even more...there are just so many things to try to keep track of.

The brand that I use is McCormick, but they are probably all the same.

aswartzw Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:43pm
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by smoore

My son has dairy and peanut allergies, but never reacted to almond extract ... thanks for the warning, though. It's weird how they all react differently and at different levels. It's good to remember that even though something doesn't effect my son, who has the allergy, doesn't mean it won't effect someone else.




Does your son of peanut allergies only? If so, then he's not allergic to tree nuts. I didn't know there was a difference until I started reading for this thread.

elvis Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:47pm
post #7 of 18

I found some sites saying that imitation is fine, but this excerpt is from something called UW HEALTH

Read labels of all food purchased and avoid all peanuts. Many people who are allergic to peanuts avoid tree nuts as well

Label ingredients which indicate the presence of peanut protein


Peanuts
Peanut flour

Peanut butter

Mandelonas

Mixed nuts/beer nuts

Imitation walnuts

Imitation almonds


Hydrolyzed vegetable protein or âgroundnutsâ (may be made from peanuts)

led UW Health....

aswartzw Posted 20 May 2008 , 2:49pm
post #8 of 18

I'm really interested now. icon_lol.gif

Since McCormick's uses benzaldehyde (which is a primary component of almond extract) this could be what caused the breakout. Although, it's also present in cherries and apricots so why are people not allergic to these too? Seems strange to me.

Sounds like it will be better to not use anything with a nut name on it for these people.

smoore Posted 20 May 2008 , 3:04pm
post #9 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by aswartzw

Quote:
Originally Posted by smoore

My son has dairy and peanut allergies, but never reacted to almond extract ... thanks for the warning, though. It's weird how they all react differently and at different levels. It's good to remember that even though something doesn't effect my son, who has the allergy, doesn't mean it won't effect someone else.



Does your son of peanut allergies only? If so, then he's not allergic to tree nuts. I didn't know there was a difference until I started reading for this thread.




My son has eaten whole almonds (loves them, in fact), but his throat will close up with just one bite of a peanut butter cookie (that's the only peanut food he's ever had ... When he was 3 he wouldn't eat a PB&J when and told me he doesn't like them -- me being a smarty pants says how do you know if you don't try it? I made a peanut butter cookies w/o the criss cross (he never took pb cookies in the past either so I had to make them look different). He took one bite, said it was good, but it "feels like it has peanut butter in it." ????Feels like it????? His nose immediately started running, tongue started itching and out came a big ol' dose of benedryl (we already knew about his dairy alergy at this point, so we carry that stuff everywhere). He was fine ... but I thought it was weird that he knew he shouldn't have it when he never tried it before.

MikeRowesHunny Posted 20 May 2008 , 3:22pm
post #10 of 18

I read somewhere that a dislike for a certain food is often the body's way of protecting us from something we are allergic to! I don't know whether that's true or not, but smoore's son's example would indicate that it may be so after all?!

diane Posted 20 May 2008 , 5:10pm
post #11 of 18

he must be seriously allergic. i am allergic to milk and have to carry an epi pen, but i can tolerate a very small amount of milk in cooked stuff.

smoore Posted 20 May 2008 , 5:22pm
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by diane

he must be seriously allergic. i am allergic to milk and have to carry an epi pen, but i can tolerate a very small amount of milk in cooked stuff.




He seems to be growing out of the milk allergy ... he used to get hives on his fingers from just touching my daughter's empty sanck bowl that had cheese crakers in it, but he can now eat things with milk where it's cooked and isn't a main ingredient. It's my understanding that the milk tolerance can improve with age/limited exposure .... peanuts are different, though. That gets worse over time and with each reaction. The minute he reacts to US eating peanuts, is when he gets the epi pen .... the doctor thinks it's ok now since the benedryl still supresses the reaction and we have it at home and in the glove box (literally take it everywhere). My son can still be in the same room as us who are eating it, but the smell turns him off. Some kids can't even be in the same room as someone who is eating/has eaten peanuts with the possibility of airborne peanut allergens from breathing, peanut dust remaining on hands/under nails, etc ... I'm glad my son isn't that bad off (yet, anyway). I don't know what my daughter would do w/o pb&j and what I'd do without my PB Chocolate Chip icecream!!!! icon_cry.gif

pastryjen Posted 20 May 2008 , 5:44pm
post #13 of 18

My dtr has a sensitivity to peanut...it hurts her tongue...we no longer allow peanuts in our home. She's fine with tree nuts (when we find them without the famous "may contain traces of peanuts!") Many of the Wilton products are processed in the same plants as peanuts and tree nuts, including some of their colourings and sprinkles.

A new favourite product of mine is No Nuts, Golden Pea Butter - very similar to peanut butter in texture, not bad is taste but it's safe and you can bake with it. I haven't tried it yet but I'm going to have to soon. I'm dying without my PB!

sweetcravings Posted 20 May 2008 , 6:04pm
post #14 of 18

I'm not surprized at all. my son has a life threatening allergy to all nuts..(peanuts and tree nuts). I will not use imitation extracts at all. Many times they process the imitation on the same lines as the real stuff. I would bet it was cross contamination in the processing plant that caused the protien to get into the imitation extract. Scarey isn't it? It's a daily concern for me. Labelling has gotten much better but you still have to check everything.

BlakesCakes Posted 20 May 2008 , 6:11pm
post #15 of 18

I tell anyone who gets one of my cakes that I will NEVER say that it's "allergen free".

If someone even glosses over the word "allergy" when discussing a cake with me, I pin them down & tell them in an e-mail (as well as over the phone & in person at delivery) that the cake IS NOT free from exposure to peanuts, tree nuts, soy, dairy, etc. I tell them that anyone who suffers from allergies to the above must decide if they want to "risk" eating the cake because I won't be responsible (or lose sleep) for any reaction.

I know the above sounds cold hearted, but the fact is, most of what's readily available contains the disclaimer that it may have had contact with those items. I can't easily control for that for just a few cakes a year, so I encourage anyone concerned about allergies to find a baker WHO ONLY DEALS WITH THAT ISSUE AND WHO ALWAYS MAKES ALLERGEN FREE CAKES.

Just my .02
Rae

yummymummy Posted 20 May 2008 , 6:14pm
post #16 of 18

Smoore: My 9 yr old son also has a severe peanut allergy. We have to be super careful...it's a bummer, cause I LOVE peanut butter! His other syblings aren't though. Like your son, mine is fine w/ other nuts.

This is really good info though....you can never be to safe! thumbs_up.gif

TexasSugar Posted 20 May 2008 , 6:21pm
post #17 of 18

Are you sure it was the almond extract and not the cake mix or something else. Did you have nuts out in your kitchen lately?

elvis Posted 20 May 2008 , 6:33pm
post #18 of 18

I can't be 100% sure of what caused the reaction. My best guess is the extract, since I found online that imitation almond is not always a safe bet.

I use Dr'd cake mix for my white cake, which is what this was. General Mills says there are no nuts allowed in the plant, and so I know it wasn't that. The only possibility other than the extract is cross contamination...but from what I have no idea. I do not have a nut free kitchen, but am always good about wiping things down, etc. before baking/decorating.

I guess I'll never know for sure, but am not going to chance it in the future. I'm also putting a disclaimer on my website later today! Nothing is ever 100%.

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