Peanuts are a staple in the Standard American Diet (SAD) with peanut butter being the most common way Americans consume the tree nut each and everyday. What could possibly be wrong with something that is so widely consumed?
What is aflatoxin?
Aflatoxin is a potent cancer causing toxin produced from a mold found on maize, peanuts, and in peanut butter. This toxin is the most widely researched mycotoxin in the world. The fungi that produces aflatoxin as a by product of its metabolism thrives in warm and wet climates so the amount of contamination will vary based on climate. In addition to being a carcinogen, aflatoxin can also cause acute poisoning in humans.*
Although I’ve simplified and understated the effects that aflatoxin can have on humans, why would you continue to eat peanuts and peanut butter as well as feed it to your children knowing what you do know?
Our job as caring and loving parents is to look out for the well being of our children, both emotionally and physically. Are you looking out for your child’s physical well being if you continue to feed them peanut butter knowing the effects that the aflatoxin contained in that peanut butter could cause them cancer?
As you can see in this FDA document, there are strict inspection guidelines for testing aflatoxin in domestic and imported sources with a limit of 20 parts per billion (ppb). However, there is great discussion regarding the set limit of 20ppb. Is this a truly safe limit for aflatoxin contamination? Perhaps, as we’ve seen in other contamination cases researchers may discover later that 20ppb is far too high for safe hman consumption. There is just no way to know right now what the true safe limit is. Are you willing to put the safety and health of your family in the hands of researchers who will most likely change their mind about safe aflatoxin limits in our food supply at a later date?
Peanuts and peanut butter alternatives
Knowing what you do know about a cancer causing toxin in our peanut and peanut butter supply we need to find a safe alternative so our children can still enjoy their childhood staple of “PB&J”.
Thankfully there are a number of other safe nut butters available that we can pair with our favorite jelly to make lunchtime sandwiches.
Nut butters that work well on sandwiches or paired with fruit and vegetables (celery) include almond, cashew, hazelnut, macadamia, and pecan butter. I want to encourage you to find which peanut butter alternative you and your family prefer. Keep in mind you may prefer almond butter on sandwiches but enjoy cashew butter more with celery or apples for example. Personally, my family and I enjoy almond butter with everything although I am experimenting and encouraging my family to try a variety of nut butters.
Unfortunately, nut butters can be very expensive. To save on our monthly food budget while still providing my family the healthiest food possible, I make our almond butter. You might enjoy our maple almond butter recipe.
Moral of this story is to stay educated and never assume that an old family favorite is healthy or safe. Stay informed and stay healthy.