Believe it or not: The Strangest Places I’ve Encountered an Allergen

How many times have you heard “Oh, you’re allergic to peanuts? Just don’t eat them.” You would think that avoiding a food allergen would be as simple as just not eating it… But we all know.. It’s NEVER that easy! The amount of times I have come across one of my allergens in a bizarre location or non-food related product is downright puzzling and concerning. Is someone playing a never-ending trick on me? The world may never know. Here’s where I’ve found allergens that you need to look out for…

Inside My Car

According to an article from Consumer Reports, Walnut Blasting is a common direct engine-cleaning technique where “The intake manifold and valves of a car’s engine [are cleaned] with a high pressure air blast of finely crushed walnut shells.” Eeek! The use of a biodegradable abrasive like walnut shells “is meant to help clear out carbon buildup on older gasoline direct injection (GDI) engines, thus helping the car run better.”

Chris Perkins, a web editor for Road & Truck Magazine, warned others about the dangers of walnut blasting after his shocking allergic reaction earlier this year. In his article, Beware Direct-Injection Engine Cleaning if You Have Nut Allergies, Chris described his shortness of breath, lip numbness, and asthma attack-like symptoms after dropping off his vehicle at the dealership for some routine maintenance. The culprit? – Airborne walnut particles. Check out this article from Snack Safely for more details on the risks of walnut blasting.

Hidden in Our Pest Control

Take a closer look at this Raid Ant Bait… These common household traps hides a Caution: Contains peanuts or peanut by-products statement in the bottom corner. According to an article from Allergic Living, practicing allergist Dr. Scott Sicherer state, “that level of avoidance would usually be unnecessary.” . But personally, I prefer to stick to a strict no peanut policy in my home – No matter where it’s sitting.

At Happy Hour

Its second nature to be checking our food for potential allergens, but are you being just as weary of your drinks too?

Alcoholic beverages are not safe from allergens. Amaretto, a sweet liqueur often flavored with almonds, is common in mixed drinks and spiked coffees. Walnut bitters add a woody flavor to a classic Old Fashion. Egg whites can be a key ingredient in whiskey sour mixes. Screwball is a peanut butter whiskey. Aquafaba, the leftover liquid from cooked chickpeas, is sometimes substituted to create a vegan whipped garnish. With the shared used of shakers and strainers behind the bar, there is quite the risk of cross contamination from fruit juices and garnishes.

Don’t let your guard down when ordering a cocktail… Always always always inform you bartender of your allergy!

Under The Couch in My Hotel Room

Picture this. You spent months planning the perfect bachelorette weekend for your cousin. You had a long day of traveling and just can’t wait to lay down in the comfort of your own hotel room and… BOOM. There is a literal assortment of mixed nuts peaking out from under the couch. I need to know the odds… Out of ALL the rooms in this ten-story hotel building, and this is the room I get placed in?!

At My Beauty Appointments

I have religiously gotten my eyebrows waxed at the Benefit Bar at Ulta Beauty. But at my first appointment, I carelessly checked ‘no’ to all the legal questions concerning certain topical medications, until a disclaimer about nut allergies caught my eye. Much to my surprise, the cosmetic bar’s pre-and-post waxing serum contained almonds. It had never even crossed my mind to ask, so I was beyond thankful that they called attention to the problem themselves…. Because I certainly did not need that covering my entire face!

But you know the only time that I will ask for almonds? When I’m choosing my nail shape at the salon, of course! But no so much when its in the hand lotion… or in the bath bomb used in the pedicure bowl…. I’m someone who always wants a fresh manicure, but moving city to city, I’ve walked out of a new studio with hives more than once. Always inquire about the ingredients in all of the products being used throughout your service.

Hiding In My Beauty Products

I used a certain shampoo and conditioner set for months and was quite literally scratching my head wondering why my scalp and body were so itchy. The answer? Macadamia nuts.

Because so many self tanning products include almonds or macadamia nuts, many inquiring minds have asked which brands I pull out each summer. When I’m looking for that bronze glow, I stick with the Ulta Brand Gradual Tan Lotion. The ingredients are easily accessible on their website, and much easier to read online than on the small product bottles.

This goes for spray tans too! I did not realize this was a potential problem until I coincidentally booked an appointment at a studio that advertised as being nut free. Be extra careful – The last thing you need is for a nut-based product to be stuck on your skin for a week.

In My Dog’s Treats

It turns out that even precious and innocent puppies like peanut butter just as much as some people do (sigh). And while some PB flavored treats are clearly labeled on the front of the packaging, others are not. Wanting to pick out a special holiday treat for my puppies (Poppet and Coconut) last Christmas, I innocently place the cutest candy cane biscuits into the cart alongside all of my other Target “essentials.” Something in my gut made me double check the back of the packaging, only to find peanut butter as one of the main ingredients. Ugh!

As a certified Rover dog walker always meeting new fluffy friends around Chicago, this is something I am always on the look out for. I love some good puppy kisses just as much as the next person, but just like its important to ask your significant other what they’ve recently eaten, make sure you know what the dog ate that day too! Their treats can just as easily cause a reaction.

Tossed Through My Dorm Hallway

This has to be one of the worst ones – without a doubt. I woke up early on a Saturday morning for a sorority recruitment event to find a trail of peanut butter splattered along my hallway corridor. Covering the floors, walls, and doors alike, I’ll never forget the sheer panic that came over me when I found the unmistakable red JIF lid laying in the middle of the mess.

A short-lived drunken game for a couple of college kids left me permanently traumatized in its aftermath. Too terrified to return to my building even after the floors were professional cleaned (we can thank my father for calling that one in), I resided at my family’s home off campus and commuted to class for over a week. It took a lot of courage (and tears) to get myself back on that floor to finish out the rest of the semester.

Avoiding your allergen is clearly not as easy as simply not eating it. You never know when you’ll wake up to it literally knocking on your front door.

Nuts in Macaroni and Cheese?!

On a weekend getaway to Nashville with my boyfriend, we stopped at The Mockingbird restaurant right outside of The Gulch. While I was shocked to find out I could safely order the ooey-gooey cinnamon roll for breakfast, I was even more shocked to find out what I couldn’t order – the macaroni and cheese. A true staple of my diet, and usually a safe go-to, actually contained tree nuts. It was not even labeled in the description on the menu, which just goes to show that you should #alwaysdoublecheck with your server.

In My Literal Backyard

Honestly, I have trouble believing this one myself. But one hundred percent true story, I had a stare down with this squirrel through my living room window as he shelled a peanut while sitting in a tree in my own backyard. It was like somehow he knew, and was purposely taunting me. And to think that some people assume that avoiding your allergies is as easy as not ordering them at dinner! I can’t help but laugh with this one… Truly unbelievable.

Unfortunately, I think I will be forever updating this article because an allergen’s ability to pop into my life never ceases to amaze me. Whether I’m jumping over a cluster of peanut shells while crossing the street or having to pull a half eaten pistachio out of my dog’s mouth on a walk around the city, they always seem to find me…. Starting to think I REALLY need to investigate this whole ‘people playing tricks on me’ thing…

What’s the weirdest place you’ve encountered your allergies?

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