Since our daughter is allergic to peanuts and some tree nuts, we are always on the hunt for safe nut-free snacks. She asked if popcorn was nut-free, so I researched popcorn ingredients and decided to share my findings here.
Is popcorn a nut-free snack? Some popcorn snacks are peanut- and tree nut-free, such as Jolly Time, Skinny Pop, and LesserEvil. However, some popcorn contains nuts, is made with peanut oil, or is prepared on equipment that also handles nuts, meaning some popcorn is unsafe for people with peanut or tree nut food allergies.
From oils, flavorings, mixes, and shared equipment, there are many layers to finding popcorn that’s safe for kids and adults with peanut or tree nut allergies or sensitivities.
This article will give you:
- examples of nut-free popcorn
- examples of popcorn that is not nut-free
- the 5-step process to find nut-free snacks
This article may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure for more info.
DO THESE POPCORN BRANDS CONTAIN NUTS?
|Popcorn Brand||Contains Peanuts||Contains Tree Nuts||Facility Has Nuts|
|Orville Redenbacher||Some May Contain||Some Yes||Yes|
|Bob’s Red Mill||No||No||Yes|
|Trader Joe’s||Some May Contain||Some May Contain||Yes|
|BoomChickaPop||Some Yes||Some Yes||Yes|
Always check labels yourself before eating or serving if you have food allergies. At the time of publishing, this information is accurate according to the information given on each manufacturer’s food labels and website information.
HOW TO FIGURE OUT IF A POPCORN SNACK IS NUT-FREE
There are several steps to figure out if a popcorn item is safe for someone with peanut or tree nut food allergies. Everyone allergic to peanuts or tree nuts needs to follow Steps 1-3, but some also need to do steps 4 and 5 to avoid cross-contamination reactions.
- Know if You’re Looking for Peanut or Tree Nut (or both)
- Read the Full Ingredient List
- Read the Food Allergy Warning
- Read May Contain Warnings
- Read Facility Information
Every person with food allergies has unique needs. Some only need to avoid peanuts or tree nuts as an ingredient, while others need to avoid food made on the same equipment as peanuts or tree nuts.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the five-step process to determine if a certain brand of popcorn is safe for an individual’s food allergies.
1. PEANUT FREE VS. TREE NUT FREE POPCORN – KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
Tree Nuts and Peanut Allergies are two different allergies, so it is important to learn which one you’re looking for to determine if a food is safe to eat or not when reading food labels.
Before becoming a food allergy mom, I didn’t know the difference. Now that one is life-threatening for our child, I know the difference well.
Peanuts and tree nuts can both be found in some popcorn ingredients and facilities, so I will share information about both in this article so you can find safe popcorn options for your diet needs.
2. READ THE FULL INGREDIENT LIST TO CHECK FOR NUTS
Read the entire ingredient list to make sure there are not peanuts or tree nuts (or their hidden names) in the popcorn snack.
It can be tempting to just quickly jump down to the bolded Allergen Warning underneath the complete list of ingredients, but avoid this temptation! I’ve seen too many errors to rely on this list alone.
Look for Peanut and Other Peanut Names
Some hidden names for peanuts created by FARE are:
- Arachis oil (another name for peanut oil)
- Artificial nuts
- Beer nuts
- Cold-pressed, expelled or extruded peanut oil*
- Ground nuts
- Lupin (or lupine)–which is becoming a common flour substitute in gluten free food. A study showed a strong possibility of cross-reaction between peanuts and this legume, unlike other legumes.
- Mandelonas (peanuts soaked in almond flavoring)
- Mixed nuts
- Monkey nuts
- Nut meat
- Peanut butter
- Peanut flour
- Peanut protein hydrolysate
*highly refined peanut oil is not required to be labeled as an allergen. Studies show most people with peanut allergy can safely eat this kind of peanut oil. Ask your doctor if you should avoid peanut oil if you are allergic to peanuts.
Look for Tree Nuts and Other Tree Nut Names
Common and hidden names for tree nuts from the FARE list are:
- Artificial nuts
- Black walnut hull extract (flavoring)
- Brazil nut
- Chinquapin nut
- Gianduja (a chocolate-nut mixture)
- Ginkgo nut
- Hickory nut
- Litchi/lichee/lychee nut
- Macadamia nut
- Marzipan/almond paste
- Nangai nut
- Natural nut extract (e.g., almond, walnut–artificial extracts are generally safe)
- Nut butters (e.g., cashew butter)
- Nut distillates/alcoholic extracts
- Nut meal
- Nut meat
- Nut milk (e.g, almond milk)
- Nut oils (e.g., almond oil)
- Nut paste
- Nut pieces
- Pili nut
- Pine nut (also referred to as Indian, pignoli, pignolia, pignon, pinon, and pinyon nut)
- Shea nut
- Walnut hull extract (flavoring)
3. CHECK THE “CONTAINS” ALLERGEN WARNING FOR PEANUTS OR TREE NUTS
The Food Allergy Warning in the U.S. is often bold words underneath the ingredient list that tells consumers which of the top 8 allergens are in that food at a quick glance. It usually looks something like this:
CONTAINS PEANUTS, TREE NUTS (or any of their names), MILK, WHEAT, SOY, EGG, FISH, OR SHELLFISH
If this warning label includes PEANUTS or any of the TREE NUTS, then that is not a nut-free popcorn. Avoid and find another popcorn option.
4. READ THE “MAY CONTAIN” ALLERGY WARNING FOR NUTS
The “May Contain” warning on a popcorn food label means although one of the top allergens is not an ingredient, it is present in the facility and/or on the same equipment as that popcorn. Therefore, that food item could contain the allergen from cross-contamination.
Unfortunately, this warning is optional according to the FDA and can sometimes lead to allergic reactions for unknown reasons.
If popcorn says may contain peanuts or tree nuts, it may not be safe for those with any nut allergy.
Some people with nut allergies are ok with cross-contamination and safely eat foods that “may contain” nuts. The decision to eat or avoid foods that “may contain” nuts is determined by parents, doctors, and the children with food allergies based on their unique food allergy needs.
Our daughter has had reactions to cross-contaminated foods, so brands that offer this information are a blessing for food allergy parents like us.
5. READ IF NUTS ARE IN THE FACILITY
If you’re concerned about nuts being present in the facility or on shared equipment with your popcorn and they don’t provide that information on the label, you can search on Google to find out.
I typically search something like:
“popcorn brand name” + “allergy facility information”
This usually leads to a webpage with information about the allergens in their facility.
If the website does not provide allergen information, then email or call their customer service to find out if their popcorn is prepared near peanuts or tree nuts.
EXAMPLES OF POPCORN THAT IS NUT-FREE AND MADE IN A NUT-FREE FACILITY
Nut-free popcorn does exist! Here are a few examples:
1. Jolly Time Popcorn
According to the Jolly Time FAQ, “All Jolly Time popcorn is peanut and tree nut free.”
Some Jolly Time Popcorn Options You Can Buy Online:
- Jolly Time White Popcorn Kernels
- Jolly Time Yellow Popcorn Kernels
- Jolly Time Healthy Pop Kettle Corn Microwave Popcorn (pack of 12)
2. SkinnyPop Popcorn
According to the Skinny Pop FAQ, “SkinnyPop products are free of peanuts, tree nuts, soy, wheat, eggs.” and as for facility, “Some of our facilities process soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, and dairy.”
Some SkinnyPop Popcorn Options You Can Buy Online:
- SkinnyPop Original 100 Calorie Bags (pack of 30)
- SkinnyPop Original (single bag)
- SkinnyPop Original (pack of 12)
- SkinnyPop White Chedder (pack of 12)
- SkinnyPop Butter (pack of 12)
- SkinnyPop Popcorn Mini Cakes
3. Lesser Evil Organic Popcorn
The Lesser Evil website and product labels are clear about the allergens inside the facility, which include dairy and egg for top 8 allergens. No mention of peanuts or tree nuts. Yay!
Some Lesser Evil Popcorn Options You Can Buy Online:
- Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Salt Individual Bags (pack of 25)
- Lesser Evil Himalayan Pink Salt (pack of 3)
- Lesser Evil “No Cheese” Cheesiness (pack of 12)
- Lesser Evil Organic Popcorn Avocado-licious (pack of 12)
* [a personal favorite] *
This is not an inclusive list but is a great starting point so anyone looking for nut-free popcorn can find a safe choice.
🚨EXAMPLES OF POPCORN THAT CONTAINS NUTS OR IS MADE IN A FACILITY WITH NUTS🚨
Here are a few examples of popcorn snacks that contain nuts or are made on the same equipment as peanuts or tree nuts that those with nut allergies or in a nut-free school need to know about.
1. Orville Redenbacher Poppycock Popcorn Contains Nuts
- Orville Redenbacher Poppycock Pecan Delight – glazed popcorn and pecans
- Orville Redenbacher Poppycock Cashew Lovers – glazed popcorn and cashews
- Orville Redenbacher Poppycock Original – glazed popcorn, almonds, and pecans
Most products on the Orville Redenbacher website have a Smart Label, so can quickly see the ingredients and Allergy Info for that product.
Although the Poppycock popcorn canisters and bags contain tree nuts and may contain peanuts, the plain popcorn kernels and microwavable bags do not have any allergen warning about peanuts or tree nuts.
So it seems the unpopped kernels and microwavable bags from Orville Redenbacher could be safe for anyone not worried about shared facilities with peanuts or tree nuts.
2. Quinn Popcorn Shares Equipment With Peanuts and Tree Nuts
According to the Quinn FAQ, “Our popcorn is manufactured in a facility on shared equipment with dairy, wheat, soy, tree nut, fish, egg, and peanut products.”
3. Bob’s Red Mill Shared Facility with Tree Nuts
According to Bob’s Red Mill FAQ, “Our Conventional Facility processes almonds, walnuts, coconut, soy, wheat, milk, eggs, and sesame seeds.”
“Our Gluten-Free Facility processes almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, coconut, macadamia nuts, soy, and sesame seeds.”
“Our new line of Bob’s Bars and Pan Baked Granolas are produced and packaged in off-site facilities that handle peanuts and tree nuts (tree nuts may include but not limited to: walnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamia nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, and pistachios), wheat, egg, soy, and milk.”
4. Trader Joe’s Specialty Popcorn May Contain Peanuts and Tree Nuts
Trader Joe’s Heirloom Popcorn appears to be nut-free. However, that doesn’t mean all Trader Joe’s popcorn is safe for nut allergies.
The Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Popcorn sounds delicious, but the allergen label warns that it contains milk, and “May contain traces of egg, soy, wheat, peanut, almond, cashew, macadamia nut, pistachio, walnut.”
The Synergistically Seasoned Popcorn sounds great too, but the Ingredients warns it “May contain traces of Milk, Almond, Coconut, Macadamia Nut, Pecan.”
5. BoomChickaPop Drizzle Popcorn Contains or May Contain Nuts
BoomChickaPop says, “We are NOT a certified nut-free zone. We make every effort to make sure that our everyday products and facilities are nut-free, but we are not certified nut-free. Our drizzle popcorns: Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Holidrizzle flavors are made in a facility that processes peanuts and tree nuts.“
- Boomchickapop Milk Chocolaty Peanut Butter – contains peanuts and manufactured in a facility with tree nuts
6. Smartfood Kettle Corn Shared Equipment with Peanuts and Tree Nuts
The Smartfood FAQ tells us they clearly label their popcorn snacks that contain or share equipment with peanuts or tree nuts.
“The snacks listed contain or share equipment with peanuts or tree nuts. This is clearly marked on the back of the package. No other SMARTFOOD Snacks contain nor share equipment with peanuts or tree nuts.“
- SMARTFOOD Kettle Corn Flavored Popcorn – shares equipment with peanuts and tree nuts
You can see on the Amazon labels of the SMARTFOOD White Cheddar Flavored Popcorn and the Caramel & Cheddar Mix have no warning about nuts, so they are probably made on equipment without peanuts or tree nuts.
WARNING ABOUT PEANUT OIL IN POPCORN
Some popcorn is popped in peanut oil at places like movie theatres or carnivals. Popcorn oil is hard to spot even on a label because highly processed peanut oil is exempted from food allergy labeling requirements. According to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE):
“Highly refined peanut oil is not required to be labeled as an allergen. Studies show that most people with peanut allergy can safely eat this kind of peanut oil. If you are allergic to peanuts, ask your doctor whether you should avoid peanut oil.”-Food Allergy Research and Education
This is why it is imperative you read all the ingredients to spot allergens like peanuts, instead of relying on only the Allergy Warning after the ingredients.
Is popcorn safe for peanut allergies? Popcorn can be safe for peanut allergies if the ingredients do not contain peanuts, peanut oil, or processed on shared equipment with peanuts. Some of the peanut-free popcorn brands we found are Jolly Time, Lesser Evil, and Skinny Pop.
What are other nut-free snacks? Popcorn can be one safe nut-free snack, along with applesauce pouches, beef sticks, fresh and dried fruits, nut-free chips, nut-free protein bites, nut-free cookies, and beef sticks.
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FREE LIST OF PEANUT AND TREE NUT-FREE SNACKS
If you’re looking for more safe store-bought snack ideas, you’ll love my FREE ALLERGY FRIENDLY SNACK GUIDE. Everything is Free of the Top 8 Allergens (including peanuts and tree nuts) that you can easily order from 3 different online grocery stores.
FINDING SAFE POPCORN BRANDS FOR FOOD ALLERGIES
There is no simple “yes” or “no” answer to our original question, “Is Popcorn a Nut-Free Snack?” As with most food allergy questions, it’s complicated.
Things like peanut oil, peanut flavorings, popcorn mixes with tree nuts, and shared equipment with nuts can make popcorn an unsafe snack for those allergic to peanuts or tree nuts.
Hopefully, this Popcorn and Nut Allergy Guide has taught you how to find safe nut-free popcorn.
So everyone, even those with peanut and tree nut allergies, can confidently enjoy popcorn during movie nights, as an easy snack, or at special holiday gatherings.
SAVE FOR LATER AND SHARE WITH OTHER FOOD ALLERGY PARENTS
Always Check Food Labels Yourself
Ingredients and manufacturing procedures can change over time. Please recheck food labels to make sure they fit your dietary needs before eating.
I am a constantly-researching food allergy mom. However, I am not a medical professional and nothing on this blog should take the place of your doctor’s recommendations.
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