Allergic to Wood Smoke?

By Heather Legg

My daughter is allergic to tree nuts, pecans being one of them. Recently, the question arose is she allergic to meat smoked with pecan wood? I started reading around a little, and my husband gave my daughter some of the smoked meat, and here’s what we found:

• She has no allergy to the meat cooked with pecan wood. She ate it a little apprehensively, but she had no allergic repercussions. After we kept asking her, she said her mouth may itch a little, but then she confessed because we kept talking about it and she was really fine.
• Most people with tree nut allergies are fine with the wood from the same nut plant.
• It is compared to people with egg allergies being fine with eating chicken (I never even thought of that!). The nut itself has the proteins which are where the allergens usually lie, the wood is a completely different part and does not contain the same proteins that cause the allergic reactions.
• Some woods themselves are high on the allergy chain, like cedar, sycamore and hemlock.
• Some fear the oils from the wood will be transmitted to the meats that are cooked. However, again, the oils contain fats while the nut meat contains proteins. the allergens are usually within the proteins. That is why a lot of people allergic to peanuts can still eat peanut oil. I don’t know enough about this, because if I saw pecan oil or cashew oils in a food, I don’t think I’d allow my daughter to have it. Or maybe after this bit of research, I would.
• Some people are actually allergic to the wood smoke itself, regardless of the type of wood. This however, will induce a more respiratory/environmental type of reactions or can cause problems with asthma if that is the case, as opposed to a food allergy reaction.

It makes you wonder how careful to be. Reading some of the posts out there on wood smoke allergies make you see how people from all sides view allergies. There are those cautious and careful and both sides of the extremes. But it’s hard to know. If it’s yourself or your child, you don’t want to risk, but then there is the over careful, too. At least now we know, my daughter can safely and happily eat her grandparent’s pecan wood smoked meats!

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