Aflatoxins in peanut butter: cancer causing foods around us.
It has been widely rumoured at some point that peanut butter causes cancer. Such a statement would be a serious disappointment to all the fans of peanut butter out there, not to mention peanut butter manufacturers. So is it true that peanut butter does contain any cancer causing elements?
When peanuts are stored in warm humid places, they are prone to get infected with a certain type of fungus. The species is called Aspergillus, and it is known to contain aflatoxins, probably the strongest carcinogenic substances known to us. This fungus, dwelling in soil, rotting plants, sometimes in badly preserved grain, can also parasite on pecans, walnuts, pistachios, soybeans, spices, corn and milk.
As any mold, aspergillus needs warm and humid environment to grow. That is why it is essential to store your foods and spices probably. If you stored nuts, grain or spices for a long time, and/or if you see mold or just tiny bits of mold — dispose of those foods immediately and wash the place they were stored at. These folds and mold can contain dangerous toxins that lead to cancer, mostly liver cancer!
So when peanuts are gathered and stored by peanut butter manufacturers, they can get infected with aspergillus and as a result they contain aflatoxin, a dangerous carcinogen! Although peanuts are roasted before becoming butter, the danger is still there. Aflatoxin affects mostly live, so technically contaminated peanut butter could lead to liver cancer.
Government control of aflatoxins.
The US government food control authorities, however, watch for aflatoxins in foods, namely in grain and peanut butter. There is strict control and peanut butter can not be sold if it contains more than twenty parts per billion aflatoxin in peanut butter (that’s very little). So most major brands produce clean and safe peanut butter.
Since there is no liver cancer outbreak among kids, who usually eat a lot of peanut butter, one can conclude that this food is safe. Moreover it contains nutritional value, carrying vegetable fats and fatty acids that our body needs. Only make sure you buy estableshed, controlled brands, and stick to peanut butter that contains only peanuts and salt, avoid sugars and hydrogenated fats in them.
And remember, do not let mold into your body! Store all foods in dry, cool and ventilated areas and trough away immediately when in doubt!
Here’s a great video on identifying aspergillus (aflatoxin-carrying mold) in corn crops:
So once again:
- stay away from unknown peanut butter brands
- consume peanut butter in moderation
- do not led foods you store get contaminated by mold
- eat healthy and live long!