Natural Peanut Butter and Aflatoxins

Rumors come and go surrounding aflatoxins and natural peanut butter – but what is the real story here? Well, it’s not nearly as scary as you might’ve guessed. Unfortunately, there actually have been serious health problems as a result of high levels of aflatoxin ingestion, but these health complications were a result of crops grown locally in ASIA and in AFRICA. Dr. Andrew Craig from the American Peanut Council stated,
We are proud to say that Crazy Richard’s Peanut Butter Company only uses peanuts grown in the USA! We never import peanuts from other countries.
Read below to learn more about what aflatoxins actually are and how to avoid them if possible.
Aflatoxins are a family of toxins produced by two types of mold (Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus parasiticus) that are most commonly found on agricultural crops such as corn, peanuts, cottonseed and tree nuts and can contaminate crops in the field, at harvest, and during storage. They are poisonous and even cancer-causing chemicals that occur based on environmental conditions—high moisture and high temperature are most favorable. Corn is generally the highest of concern based on the climate it grows in, though peanuts and peanut butter are common as well. Aflatoxins are most harmful in areas of the world where people consume large amounts of these foods like Asia and Africa. Research has even shown that consumption of aflatoxin can lead to liver disease in certain countries such as China and Africa.
Possible Exposures to Aflatoxins:
       Plant products (including peanuts)
       Meat or dairy (milk, cheese) from animals that ate contaminated feed
       During handling and processing of contaminated crops and feeds
Although there have been no outbreaks in the United States, it’s important to help minimize the risk.
How To Decrease Exposure:
       Throw out nuts/nut butters that look moldy, discolored, or shriveled
       Don’t keep grains and nuts for long periods of time before eating them (more than a few months)
       Buy locally fresh ingredients
       Buy from known, reputable sources
       Store commonly contaminated products (nuts, grains, corn, cottonseed) in a dry, low-humidity, cool environment, such as the freezer
       Soak, sprout and ferment grains, beans, legumes and seeds before eating them—it boosts the availability of nutrients and helps lower presence of mold
Aflatoxins. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2017, from https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/aflatoxins
Barrett, J. R. (2005, December). Liver Cancer and Aflatoxin: New Information from the Kenyan Outbreak. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1314947/
Department of Animal Science – Plants Poisonous to Livestock. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://poisonousplants.ansci.cornell.edu/toxicagents/aflatoxin/aflatoxin.html
Information about Health & Aflatoxins in foods such as peanut butter. (n.d.). Retrieved February 15, 2017, from http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/aflatoxin.php

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