Substance Info: (and synonyms)
Pecan Nut / Hickory Nut / Sweet Pignut

Background Info:

From Pecan/ Hickory tree (see).
The Pecan tree bears sweet edible nuts, deep brown in colour, that range from 2.5 to 5cm in length. The nuts have smooth shells and a mild, sweet, walnut-type flavour. Pecan nuts are not produced until trees are five or six years old. The nuts ripen from mid-September until December in the Northern Hemisphere. They are harvested after they fall to the ground. Pecans can last up to six months in their shells if refrigerated.

Over 100 varieties are commercially available, e.g., Shagbark Hickory nuts and Mockernut Hickory nuts. They are used whole or crushed. Oil from the nuts is an ingredient in processed foods, is used in the manufacture of cosmetics and soap, and is a drying agent in paints.

The Pecan tree is an important crop tree cultivated for its timber and edible nuts. The Pecan is a large tree native to North America. The range of Pecan covers the warmer temperate zone and subtropical areas. It is very common in the South and Southeast USA, where it is native, but is also planted much beyond this range.

There are two main classes of trees. One is a flowering plant bearing seeds inside a fruit. The other is a plant with unprotected seeds carried on cone scales.

The Pecan nut was a major food source for the American Indians for thousands of years. The southern US is an important producer of Pecan nuts, where orchards produce 250 million pounds in an average year. In the USA, Texas is the largest producer of Pecans.


Adverse Reactions:


[ 1 / 8 ]

Immunological contact urticarial and/or protein contact dermatitis. Classically, the protein sources are divided into 4 main groups: group 1: fruits, vegetables, spices, plants, and woods; group 2: animal proteins; group 3: grains and group 4: enzymes. Taking into account the nature of the causal proteins, a wide variety of jobs can be affected. (Amaro 2008 ref.20923 7)

Amaro C, Goossens A. Immunological occupational contact urticaria and contact dermatitis from proteins: a review. Contact Dermatitis 2008 Feb;58(2):67-75.

[ 2 / 8 ]

A "nut box" was constructed containing samples of common nuts and pine nuts. Nut-allergic and nonallergic children were asked to identify the nuts, and their responses were compared and correlated by age. Nut-allergic children were asked to identify the nut(s) that they should not eat. In general, children, including those who are allergic to nuts, can identify few nuts. This lack of recognition could put them at increased risk for unintentional ingestion. As part of an overall educational plan, nut-allergic children should be taught not only to avoid but also to identify the nut to which they are allergic. (Ferdman 2006 ref.15441 7)

Ferdman RM, Church JA. Mixed-up nuts: identification of peanuts and tree nuts by children. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 2006 Jul;97(1):73-77

[ 3 / 8 ]

A patient experienced an acute vesicular cutaneous reaction (contact dermatitis) after prolonged contact with pecans. (Joyce 2006 ref.14350 7)

Joyce KM, Boyd J, Viernes JL. Contact dermatitis following sustained exposure to pecans (Carya illinoensis): a case report. Cutis 2006 Apr;77(4):209-212

[ 4 / 8 ]

A retrospective review of 213 Australian children with peanut or tree nut allergy was undertaken over a 42 month period. Anaphylaxis to cashew nut was more common than to peanut (74.1% v 30.5%). Of 213 patients seen with peanut and/or tree nut allergy, 177 patients (83.1%) had peanut allergy, 27 (12.6%) had cashew allergy, and 9 (4.2%; 2 each to almond and pecan, 1 each to hazelnut and walnut, and 3 were a mixture of nuts) had allergy to other tree nuts. A number of patients had anaphylaxis without cutaneous involvement. (Davoren 2005 ref.15757 0)

Davoren M, Peake J. Cashew nut allergy is associated with a high risk of anaphylaxis. Arch Dis Child 2005 Oct;90(10):1084-5.

[ 5 / 8 ]

Protein contact dermatitis from Pecan nut has been reported. (Guin 2000 ref.4618 3)

Guin JD, France G. Protein contact dermatitis from pecan. Contact Dermatitis 2000;43(5):309-10

[ 6 / 8 ]

Allergy to foods containing Pecan nuts is common. Pecan nut allergy frequently has an onset in the first few years of life and generally persists, accounting for severe and potentially fatal allergic reactions. (Sicherer 2000 ref.4559 7) (Boyd 1989 ref.4571 8) (Yunginger 1988 ref.278 98)

Sicherer SH, Sampson HA. Peanut and tree nut allergy. Curr Opin Pediatr 2000;12(6):567-73

[ 7 / 8 ]

Fatal anaphylaxis in a very allergic 16-year-old boy who ate a pie crust containing pecan nut. Almost instantly after taking a bite of the pastry, he became cyanotic and collapsed. (Boyd 1989 ref.4571 7)

Boyd GK. Fatal nut anaphylaxis in a 16-year-old male: case report. Allergy Proc 1989;10(4):255-7

[ 8 / 8 ]

In 16 months, seven fatal food-induced anaphylaxis involving five males and two females, aged 11 to 43 years were seen. All victims were atopic with multiple prior anaphylactic episodes after ingestion of the incriminated food (peanut, four; pecan, one; crab, one; fish, one). In six cases the allergenic food was ingested away from home. Factors contributing to the severity of individual reactions included denial of symptoms, concomitant intake of alcohol, reliance on oral antihistamines alone to treat symptoms, and adrenal suppression by chronic glucocorticoid therapy for coexisting asthma.
CASE 1: An 18-year-old female with asthma and allergy to "nuts", who, within a few minutes of eating two bites of chili containing peanut butter at a restaurant near campus, she developed progressive dyspnea. En-route to the hospital she developed cardiopulmonary arrest.
CASE 2: 16-year-old boy with seevere, steroid-dependent asthma with a longstanding history of allergy to peanuts and pecans. He unknowingly ate a piece of cheesecake that contained ground pecans in the crust. He immediately became cyanotic and collapsed.
CASE 3: A 19-year-old female with multiple previous systemic reactions after ingestion of eggs, poppy seeds, peanuts, peas, or fish. She unknowingly ate a peanut-containing cookie and collapsed
CASE 4: An alcoholic man in his 40s had been hospitalized on at least two prior occasions for anaphylaxis after eating crab. He consumed an unknown quantity of crab salad, immediately became ill and died. Autopsy showed massive edema of the lips, mouth, and larynx.
CASE 5: A 43-year-old man with asthma and severe allergy to peanuts. At a Vietnamese restaurant he was specifically assured that the dishes contained no peanuts. After eating one bite of his entree, he again queried the waitress and was then told that there were slivered peanuts atop the dish. Approximately 90 minutes later, he felt ill. He collapsed five minutes later.
CASE 6: An 11-year-old boy had a history of asthma and allergy to peanuts. He unknowingly consumed one bite of a peanut-containing cake in the school lunchroom and within several minutes developed vomiting and wheezing, and subsequently, cardiopulmonary arrest.
CASE 7: A 31-year-old man had experienced multiple previous anaphylactic reactions to fish and other foods. While dining in a restaurant, he rapidly developed angioedema of the face and Ups. His dining partners later related that the french fries they had eaten tasted like fish.
Commercial products may contain peanuts that have been deflavoured and reflavoured and coloured to resemble Walnuts, Pecans, or Almonds. This may result in anaphylaxis in peanut sensitive individuals. (Yunginger 1989 ref.278 89)

Yunginger JW, Sweeney KG, Sturner WQ, Giannandrea LA, Teigland JD, Bray M, Benson PA, York JA, Biedrzycki L, Squillace DL, et al. Fatal food-induced anaphylaxis. JAMA 1988 Sep 9;260(10):1450-2.


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Allergy Advisor  - Food Additive and Preservative Allergy and Intolerance Database