Ask the allergist – If you have tree nut allergy, should you stop using kitchen items made of walnut wood?

April 8, 2022

Dr. Julia Upton
Dr. Julia Upton

Ask the allergist is a regular feature in our newsletters where Canadian allergists answer your questions!

Dr. Julia Upton is on staff at the Hospital for Sick Children in the Immunology and Allergy Department; and an Associate Professor in the Department of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. She is the past Section Chair of the Anaphylaxis and Food Allergy Section of the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Dr. Upton is also a member of our Healthcare Advisory Board.

Please note: Dr. Upton is answering as an individual allergist and her answers do not constitute an official position of her affiliated organizations. Her responses are for informational purposes only and do not constitute specific medical advice, recommendations, diagnosis, or treatment. Please talk to your doctor about any concerns or questions you may have regarding your own health or the health of your child.

This month she answers a question about tree nut allergy and using kitchen items made of walnut wood.

If my son has been diagnosed with tree nut allergy, should I stop using the walnut cutting boards and knife block that we have in our kitchen?

Wooden kitchen utensils

Allergic reactions to tree nuts, like walnut, are due to the nut protein. Given this, the use of tree nut-based wooden cutting boards or other kitchen items is likely extremely low risk for someone with a tree nut allergy. 

If the nut-based wooden kitchen items have been used for some time with no reaction, then your lived experience indicates they are reasonable for your home and your situation. 

Another thing to consider is that wood products might be maintained with nut oil. Nut oils contain very little protein and highly purified oils do not typically have enough protein to cause an allergic reaction. Less refined oils can potentially be problematic and cause an allergic reaction. 

To learn more

Do you have a food allergy-related question you’d like to ask an allergist in the months to come? If so, send it along to us at Please note: The allergists in this series answer questions on general topics, please talk to your doctor if you have questions about your own health or the health of your child.

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