The Low down on Peanut Butter

The Low down on Peanut Butter

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I read Dr. Andrew Weil’s post on peanuts recently. One of his followers asked a question about the safety of eating peanut butter, with the issue of aflatoxin in mind. Aflatoxin is a nasty mold that grows easily on peanuts, as well a variety of other foods, like corn, pistachios, almonds, and figs. Because aflatoxin is known to cause liver disease and liver cancer, Dr. Weil commented that only low levels at 20ppb are allowed in the U.S. peanut butter supply. Therefore, that shouldn’t be of concern to us because Americans don’t have a very high rate of liver cancer anyway, right? I have to stop there, because as a physician, my brain was calling out “No! No! Dr. Weil, what are you thinking?!” Aflatoxin is a carcinogen, and peanut butter is oftentimes a staple in children’s lunches. We must be clear about aflatoxin and its presence in the peanut butter that gets spread on millions of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in schools nationwide. Now wouldn’t zero-ppb be better for a child’s health than 20ppb of aflatoxin? Even in the island country of Formosa, their cutoff is 15ppb and that comes with a warning to the public. So let’s get serious about aflatoxin, and use start using peanut butter sparingly, if at all! Or for a safer alternative in little Joey’s sandwich; sunflower seed butter or cashew butter can be a better alternative.

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