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“While people love the flavor of peanuts, peanut butter, and other peanut products, they don’t always understand how nutritious and healthful they are,”says Sherry Coleman Collins, who discussed major health studies and the peanut industry's new ad campaign at the annual conference of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.
STEVEN BYRD, from left, Byrd Farms, Ariton, Ala.; and Jerry Byrd, Ariton, Ala., George Jefcoat, Gordo, Ala., and Boyd Deal, Ariton, Ala., all with Alabama Peanut Producers Association; were among those attending the annual conference of the Southern Peanut Farmers Federation.
Confronting peanut allergy issues
To deal with the peanut allergy issue, she says, the approach has been focused primarily on professionals: school nutritionists, dietitians, nurses, etc. “Our goal is to educate these professionals, who can then in turn educate their patients. We’ve achieved this to some extent, but not to the degree we’d have liked. Unfortunately, peanuts have become the poster child for food allergy — when people think of food allergies, the thing they think of first is peanuts.
“We want to change that; we want to help people realize that food allergy is an important issue, but peanuts aren’t the enemy — most people can enjoy peanuts with absolutely no health issues.
“We still have to contend with major misconceptions and myths being perpetuated in the media because people don’t have the right information about peanut allergy. In many cases, food writers and editors aren’t qualified to write about complex issues such as food allergies. Often those they interview aren’t qualified, so they end up spreading misinformation, and the more it’s published the more it appears to be true.
“Our goal, when these errors appear in the media, is to take steps to correct them and disseminate correct information.
Collins says the National Peanut Board conducted a survey of consumer perceptions on peanut allergies, and “One of things we learned is that Americans perceive that peanut allergies are about 40 times more common than they actually are. That’s a huge issue, and we need to fix that.
“Many people are also self-diagnosing peanut allergy, which is probably one of the reasons we’re seeing a huge disconnect between those who think they have peanut allergy and those who actually do have it.”