Can peanut butter intake on an airplane cause an allergy threat?

Q. Does peanut butter pose any allergy threat?

Answered by
Dr. Shyam Kalyan. N
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Oct 19, 2015 and last reviewed on: May 22, 2023

Hi doctor,

Is that fine to bring peanut butter (PB) on an airplane? I would like to know the ways that bringing PB on a plane might or might not pose a threat to others? What should you do if you are bringing PB and if you have an allergy and want to keep safe in case someone else brings some on the plane? Thanks.



Welcome to

You have asked an interesting question. Peanut allergy is one of the most severe food allergies. It can cause itchiness, urticaria, swelling, eczema, sneezing, asthma, abdominal pain, a drop in blood pressure, and cardiac arrest.

It may even result in anaphylactic death if not controlled at the right time. The routes of exposure to the allergen are mostly the accidental ingestion of peanuts or PB by the concerned person (who is hypersensitive to peanuts).

Airborne particles in a farm or factory or crushing environment may cause respiratory symptoms in allergic individuals. However, the odor of peanut butter or its mere proximity has not produced any allergic symptoms in various studies conducted.

Hence answering your questions. It is safe to carry peanut butter on the plane. If you are carrying it as part of hand baggage (cabin baggage), make sure it is packed properly in a colored container. This is to prevent any psychogenic allergic symptoms in those susceptible individuals who may see the butter and develop an allergy (However, such psychogenic reactions are very rare, but still documented in studies).

Since PB as such is not an allergen by sight/proximity/odor, a susceptible person need not take extra precautions to avoid allergy when someone else is carrying PB. However, since psychogenic reactions can occur, it may be advised that such a susceptible person may change his seat to another seat away from the person who is carrying peanut butter.

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