PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
To determine the ability of children and adults to visually identify and differentiate peanuts and tree nuts by displaying the nuts in commonly purchased and used forms.
One thousand one hundred five self-selected adults and children (456 children aged 6–18 years) visiting an interactive children's science center.
Participants were recruited to a nut display consisting of 19 numbered compartments displaying peanuts and 9 tree nuts in commonly purchased and used forms. Data on demographics, personal or family history of peanut or nut allergy, current or previous roles in child care, teaching, food preparation or serving, or patient care were collected. Participants were then asked to identify each nut in the display.
There was a wide distribution of correct answers. The mean number of correct answers was 8.4 of 19; the responses of adults (11.1) were better than those of the children (4.6). The most common identifications included peanut in the shell 94.7% of the time, peanuts out of the shell 80.5% of the time, and cashews 76.7% of the time. The least common was hazelnut at 16.1%. Twenty-seven (2.4%) self-reported peanut or tree nut allergy; no differences in correct answers were seen between allergic and nonallergic participants or parents. Twenty of the 27 were able to name the nut to which they were allergic, but only 50% correctly identified all forms of those nuts. Fifteen of 20 parents of children with allergies were able to name the nut to which their children were allergic and 73.7% correctly identified the nuts. Those involved in some aspect of child care or health care did significantly better than those who were not, but those in the food industry did not do any better than those who were not in that industry.
Both adults and children are not reliable at visually identifying most nuts.
It is obvious from this and other studies that simply telling patients to avoid peanuts or tree nuts, or specific tree nuts, is not sufficient. Some education using pictures of nuts would appear to be minimal requirements. As the authors point out, this study was done in 1 city at 1 time and may not be generalizable to other cities, although there is nothing unique about the city or the setting that would suggest it would not apply to other areas. Furthermore, the study probably overestimated the abilities of the general population due to a selection bias among participants who thought they would do well. Perhaps those who did not think they were able to identify the nuts did not participate.
- Copyright © 2012 by the American Academy of Pediatrics