Should people with nut allergy avoid nutmeg?
Nutmeg is a spice used to flavour many foods including bread, hot cross buns, haggis, Middle Eastern dishes, toppings on milk pudding and egg nog. Because of its name, many people with nut allergy believe that nutmeg must be avoided at all costs.
It is likely these people are being overcautious. We are not aware of any hard evidence to suggest that people with nut allergy are at risk from nutmeg.
Allergy to nutmeg exists in its own right, but the incidence is rare. In a French study, allergy tests to spices were carried out in 589 patients with food allergy and suspected allergy to spices. Whilst sensitisation to members of the Apiaceae botanical family (coriander, caraway, fennel, or celery) was seen in 32% of children and 23% of adults and whilst sensitisation to members of the Liliaceae family (garlic, onion, or chive) was observed in 4.6% of children and 7.7% of adults, no tests were positive to nutmeg.
If you believe you are allergic to nutmeg, our advice is the same as it is for all food allergies: see your GP and ask for a referral to an allergy clinic.
Please see our Anaphylaxis Factsheet for more information
The content of this knowledgebase article has been Peer Reviewed by Dr Michael Radcliffe, Consultant in Allergy Medicine, University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. We are not aware of any conflicts of interest in relation to his review of this article.
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Publication date: February 2019
Review date: February 2022