As a child, peanut butter was a staple in our household. It was an easy meal for us “latchkey kids” who would come home from school to an empty house, starving. I would grab the old Wonder Bread and whip together a thick, 2-inch peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich, head to the living room to watch the afternoon programs that my parents had prohibited like Dark Shadows.
Oh, the good old days!
Well, once again, while working for an environmental company, I was shocked to find out that peanuts, peanut butter and corn can contain harmful species of mold called aflatoxins. This mold forms when rotting plants, hay and grain are piled together to decompose in areas with a wet, warm climate. The most common mold species found in everyday food include: B1, B2, G1 and G2. The most toxic of those species is B1, which can cause all kinds of health problems. How badly a person is affected by the toxin depends on a number of factors including: your current health, the state of your immune and digestive systems, your level of exposure to the toxin, and the length of time you were exposed.
Why doesn’t anyone regulate this, I ask? Well, according to the World Health Organization, it seems as though they are trying.
Which foods are the most contaminated with aflatoxins? There are a number of them, but the food ranked as the most contaminated is corn. Some of the others that make the contamination list are:
- Nuts (almonds, brazil, pecan, pistachio and walnuts)
- Dried spices
You should also heed the warning to store peanuts in a cool, dry place. I guess I will be putting my peanut butter in the refrigerator!
If you’re still interested in reading about aflatoxins, there are a number of application notes on our website for you to peruse. Enjoy!