Cancer causing toxins in peanut butter…what next? They are more correctly called: aflatoxins. Peanuts, and certain other crops such as corn contain the highest risks of aflatoxin contamination, because they attract the molds Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus. Aflatoxins are the most toxic, naturally occuring carcinogens known. Yikes!
FYI–“Afla”toxin takes its name from the short hand of its causative agent, the mold A. flavus, A. fla.
A little side trip…
I have always wondered why so many people had peanut sensitivities. But I reasoned my doubts away, thinking peanuts were just highly allergic, like milk. After all, there are so many lactose intolerant people out there, right?
Well, a few months ago, we were introduced to the wonders and health benefits of drinking raw milk, and educated by Mark McAfee on why lactose intolerant people can drink raw milk without any reactions whatsoever. It’s as simple as this: in raw milk, the lactase enzyme hasn’t been killed in the pasteurization process. This enzyme is necessary for many people to be able to break down the milk sugars they drink. Very exciting for certain members of our extended family who haven’t been able to drink store milk for decades! Believe me, they are cured and can drink raw milk all day long now with no adverse reactions.
So I revisited my questions on the peanut butter problem. See, God stuck me with this “inquiring mind” that just won’t stop. I can’t help it. And here’s what I found out. The question is…
Do you really want to know?
Lest you think I’m basing this on internet drivel–please verify it all at the Cornell University website where you will learn wa-ay more than I have room for in this post!
The FAO, Food and Agricultural Organization, estimates that 25% of the world’s crops are affected by mycotoxins, of which aflatoxins are the most notorious.
Aflatoxins are sometimes detected in milk, cheese, corn, peanuts, cottonseed, nuts, almonds, figs, spices, and animal feeds . Milk, eggs, and meat products are occasionally contaminated because of the animal consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated feed.
Most people agree that aflatoxins should be considered very dangerous, and not at all allowable in food, if detectable. However, the United States FDA has set the allowable concentration for aflatoxins in human foods at 20 ppb (parts per billion). Foreign markets let far less get past them, allowing only 4-15 ppb. Animal feed can contain up to 100 ppb, which as we saw previously, sometimes allows for contamination of our dairy products and eggs. Because these molds are colorless, and don’t break down in cooking, it’s difficult to know if our foods are contaminated in these ways. And who knows what slow and steady exposure to aflatoxins will lead to over many years time?
SHOCKER: Evidence exists that Iraq used aflatoxins in their biological weapons–specifically in bombs and warheads! Agh!They evidently think that aflatoxins pose somewhat of a danger to humans!
But back to peanut butter…
Supposedly humans have a high tolerance for aflatoxin exposure, but I’m not willing to take that risk, when the lab results have shown such carcinogenic effects on animals. And not when the experts are also saying that children are at risk from chronic exposure (pb&j anyone?), with such side effects as stunted growth and delayed development.
So you might want to check these things out for yourself.
Personally, our family loves sunbutter made from sunflower seeds. Almond and cashew butters are some other delicious nut butters, great with apple slices, in smoothies, or spread on romaine lettuce leaves and then drizzled with a bit of raw honey! Mmm! We haven’t yet tried to substitute these for peanut butter in cookies…but it’s on our can’t-wait-to-try-this list!
P.S. Since I brought up nut butters, it might be of interest to clarify that peanuts aren’t actually nuts, they are legumes… ;O)