Pine nuts, also known as pignoli or pinon nuts, grow on trees of the Pinaceae family. They are a kind of tree nut. A person with a tree nut or peanut allergy may or may not be allergic to pine nuts but should speak with an allergist before eating them.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that pine nuts fall under the category of “major food allergy” as one of several different tree nuts. They qualify under Section 201 (qq).

The FDA also requires that food manufacturers and handlers clearly label food that contains pine nuts. They must specify the exact tree nuts used in, or come into contact with, the product or that come into contact with the product.

This article discusses whether or not pine nuts are safe for those with another type of tree nut allergy, a peanut allergy, or a seed allergy. It also reviews what to do if a person experiences anaphylactic shock.

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The FDA classifies pine nuts are a type of tree nut.

Although a person with a tree nut allergy may be able to eat pine nuts, they should speak with an allergist to determine which tree nuts are safe for them to eat.

This is because it is possible for those with one tree nut allergy to be allergic to another type of tree nut.

Researchers in a 2019 study found that nearly 50% of children studied had an allergy to more than one type of tree nut. Out of 154 children:

  • 52.2% were allergic to one type of tree nut
  • 26.7% were allergic to two types of tree nuts
  • 12.4% were allergic to three types of tree nuts
  • 8.7% were allergic to more than three types of tree nuts

Evidence suggests that there is a low cross-reactivity between pine nuts and other types of nuts.

However, people have reported cross-reactivity between pine nuts and peanuts, so it is possible that a person with a peanut allergy may also have a reaction to pine nuts.

A person with a peanut allergy should speak with an allergist before consuming products that contain pine nuts. They can formally test a person for a pine nut allergy.

People with a seed allergy may be able to eat pine nuts. Although pine nuts are technically seeds, the FDA classifies pine nuts as a type of tree nut.

According to Food Allergy Research and Education, seeds that have been known to cause an allergic reaction include sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, and poppy seeds. Mustard seeds can also cause an allergic reaction.

A person with a seed allergy should speak with an allergist to determine if it is safe to consume pine nuts.

Cross-contamination, or allergen cross-contact, refers to a food product coming in contact with or being produced in the same facility as a known allergen.

While the FDA requires that food manufacturers list products containing a certain nut, such as pine nuts, they do not require them to report possible cross-contamination.

They only require that a manufacturer do everything possible to reduce or eliminate the risk of cross-contamination in their facilities. They also recommend using voluntary labels that indicate possible contamination.

Cross-contamination can happen for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • that company not properly cleaning a machine used to produce two kinds of sauces
  • the food is prepared in the same area as pine nuts
  • salad bars containing pine nuts as an option

Those with a tree nut allergy or peanut allergy may also be allergic to pine nuts. As a result, it is best to speak with an allergist to ensure that eating products that may have come into contact with pine nuts is safe.

Anaphylaxis or anaphylactic shock is a life threatening reaction to exposure to an allergen.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology provides action steps known as “SAFE.” SAFE stands for:

  • Seek: Seek immediate medical attention by calling 911.
  • Allergen: Figure out what the allergen is, which may be pine nuts.
  • Follow: Follow up with a specialist or prescribing doctor.
  • Epinephrine: Bring epinephrine in case of emergencies such as pine nut exposure.

Epinephrine typically comes as a kit that friends or family can use when the person goes into shock. Family and friends should learn how to use it in case of accidental pine nut exposure.

Typically, a person needs to jab a needle into the leg or buttocks of the person going into shock. They should then turn the person onto their side until help arrives.

The FDA considers pine nuts to be tree nuts. It is possible for those with one type of tree nut allergy to have an allergic reaction to other types of tree nuts.

It is also possible for those with a peanut allergy to also be allergic to pine nuts.

People with any type of nut allergy should speak with a dermatologist allergist before consuming pine nuts.

In case of a severe reaction, a person should contact 911 and apply epinephrine directly into the leg or buttocks.