Photograper: Suat Eman
For such a simple question...it sure is complicated to find the answer!
In our welcoming kitchen, we are big fans of all things coconut!
We love the versatility that coconut products give us when developing recipes for multiple food restrictions! And we certainly try to accomodate a lot of restrictions here ;)
To those with a tree nut allergy, deciding if a coconut is safe can certainly be confusing! Prior to 2006, coconuts were not included on lists of foods to avoid for those with tree-nut allergies. However, under the new labeling laws, the FDA now classifies coconut as a tree nut. The law further requires that food labels of coconut-containing foods must warn consumers that the product contains tree-nuts.
How can a coconut become a tree-nut?
Is it an identity crisis?
What is a coconut lover to do??
Even the food allergy groups have a difficult time with recommendations regarding the safety of coconut:
According to FAAN (Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network)
"Coconut, the seed of a drupaceous fruit, has typically not been restricted in the diets of people with tree nut allergy. However, in October of 2006, the FDA began identifying coconut as a tree nut. The available medical literature contains documentation of a small number of allergic reactions to coconut; most occurred in people who were not allergic to other tree nuts. Ask your doctor if you need to avoid coconut."
The Food Allergy Initiative states the following about coconut as a tree-nut:
"The following are uncommon, additional tree nuts that require disclosure by U.S. law. However, the risk of an allergic reaction to these nuts is unknown: beechnut; ginkgo; shea nut; butternut; hickory; chinquapin; lychee nut; coconut; pili nut."
So the bottom line is...coconut is classified as a tree-nut; however, after talking with your physician, you might be able to safely consume it, even if you have a tree-nut allergy! (Disclaimer: it is possible, to be allergic to only coconut so always check with your doctor about what foods are safe and unsafe for your individual situation!)
Here in our welcoming kitchen, we do choose to use coconut containing products despite our tree-nut allergies.
Now, I may have to go have a coconut-containing drink after writing this post ;)
Happy Cooking...with Coconut!
Kim & Megan