It’s inevitable that peanut allergy concerns arise when discussing Plumpy’nut. Here in the United States it’s become completely normal for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or any peanut product for that matter, to be banned from school cafeterias. With over 3 million Americans afflicted with peanut or nut allergies, it’s naturally assumed that peanut allergies are a global health problem. Au contraire! In many parts of Africa, peanut allergies don’t even exist! Scientists credit this to the West’s lowered immune system that, ironically, has developed as a result of improved hygiene, vaccinations, and antibiotics.
“Food allergies seem far less common in poor countries than in rich countries,” says André Briend, creator of Plumpy’nut. Doctors without Borders worker Dr. Shepherd, seconds Briend’s observation claiming that he has yet to come across a child with a peanut allergy in Africa. Clearly, peanut allergies have not interfered with Plumpy’nut’s relief efforts.
While another ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF), EZ Paste, also known as BP-100, was created peanut-free, Plumpy’nut is still more widely used and accepted. Because the peanut is already a staple food in Africa, children are delighted by its sweetened taste and parents don’t have to worry about allergies!