23 Non-Food Places You May Find Hidden Peanuts

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If you or a loved one has a peanut allergy, you're almost certainly accustomed to checking ingredient labels for peanut ingredients. But did you realize peanut-derived ingredients—ranging from peanut oil to shells—also can be found in multiple non-food items that range from cosmetics to cat litter.

In fact, peanuts crop up in some truly surprising places. This obviously isn't a problem if you're not allergic to them, but for those who are allergic (especially those who have a severe peanut allergy), these various uses in non-food items make the world a much more dangerous place.

Where Can You Find Peanuts?

It might not surprise you to run across peanuts in bird seed—in fact, you can probably even see them in the bag, and know to stay away. Likewise, peanut shells and skins also are used to provide fiber roughage in livestock feed, so people who are allergic to peanuts should exercise caution if they need to handle feed used for livestock.

But what about cosmetics? While you wouldn't expect to find peanuts in your soap, shampoo or body lotion, peanut-derived ingredients are not uncommon in those products. You even can find peanut shells in artificial fireplace logs.

All in all, Verywell.com found 23 non-food products that can be made with peanuts.

Bear in mind that not all products on the following will definitely contain peanuts—in some cases, peanuts aren't currently used, or have just been used in research projects. But this list should provide you with what you need to do your own due diligence in order to keep yourself (or your peanut-allergic loved one) safe.

Non-Food Items Possibly Containing Peanuts

Here are the various places that peanut shells or skins may possibly be used in non-food items:

  1. Cat litter. Blue Buffalo brand's Blue Naturally Fresh cat litter used to be made from peanut shells, but is currently made from walnut shells.
  2. Paper. Although scientists have explored this, there don't seem to be any instances where it's being done commercially.
  3. Stuffing for beanbags or stuffed animals. This doesn't appear to be common, but it crops up occasionally and is still something to watch out for. It's possible for homemade beanbag-style toys to use bird seed as their stuffing, which can contain peanuts.
  4. Wallboard. Again, this isn't a common use for peanuts, but if your allergy is severe and you anticipate working with wallboard (or having work done in your home), you may want to double-check on the ingredients.
  5. Artificial fireplace logs. These logs use "ground biomass," which can include ground-up peanut and tree nut shells.
  6. Livestock feed.

Peanuts themselves may be ingredients in:

  1. Axle grease. George Washington Carver first used peanuts for this purpose, although petroleum-based products are much more common these days.
  2. Bird seed.
  3. Bleach. This only applies to color-safe bleach varieties, not chlorine-based bleach.
  4. Cosmetics. Here, you should look for ingredients with "Arachis Hypogaea," which is the scientific name for peanut.
  5. Detergent. This is unusual, but it is possible to find peanuts in detergents.
  6. Explosives. Peanuts can be used to make the explosive nitroglycerin.
  7. Face creams. Again, as with cosmetics, look for "Arachis Hypogaea" on the product's label.
  8. Ink. George Washington Carver started this, too, but it's not much found in the modern world.
  9. Linoleum. This is yet another George Washington Carver invention.
  10. Medicine. Always make sure to tell your pharmacist you're allergic to peanuts when filling a prescription, and double-check on any over-the-counter drugs you purchase.
  11. Metal polish. Peanuts seem to be most common as an ingredient in homemade polishes.
  12. Pet food. Dogs like the taste of peanut butter, and several common dog treats come in peanut flavor.
  1. Paint. This is a highly unlikely (but possible) use for peanuts.
  2. Rubber. George Washington Carver experimented with this, but I couldn't find any evidence that it's ever been done commercially.
  3. Shampoo. Once again, watch for those Arachis Hypogaea ingredients.
  4. Shaving cream. Check for Arachis Hypogaea on the ingredients list.
  5. Soap. Check for Arachis Hypogaea on the ingredients list.

A Word from Verywell

As you can see, some of these places are far less likely than others—in fact, a good percentage of them likely never made it out of George Washington Carver's laboratory (which, let's face it, must have been a dangerous place for those with peanut allergy).

But other places peanuts can hide (pet food and cosmetics come to mind) are a much bigger risk.

So what can you do to stay safe if you or a loved one has a peanut allergy? Well, you need to keep in mind that peanuts can be found in more than just food items, stay vigilant, read ingredients labels, and call the manufacturer if there's any ambiguity.

View Article Sources
  • American peanut council. Non-Food Uses for Peanuts. http://www.peanutsusa.org.uk/Europe/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.page&pid=61
  • Wood, Robert. Food Allergens in Non-Food Items. http://drrobertwood.com/allergens-in-nonfood-items.shtml