Whether you like eating smooth peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, or organic peanut butter, you will be surprised to learn that in every tub you buy, there are small bug fragments. No one willingly wants to eat insect parts yet all peanut butter contains them. They arguably only include trace amounts and are perfectly safe to eat. But just the thought of it…Ew.
Table of Contents
- Why Are There Bugs In Peanut Butter?
- How Do Insect Fragments Get Into Peanut Butter?
- Is It Safe to Eat Bugs in Peanut Butter?
- How Is Peanut Butter Made?
- Should You Worry About Bugs In Peanut Butter?
- FAQs on Bugs in Peanut Butter
Why Are There Bugs In Peanut Butter?
As mentioned, these insect fragments appear in all peanut butter and cannot be avoided. So maybe you’re wondering why they are even allowed there in the first place.
The reasoning for them being included in your peanut butter is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) permits and allows a small number of bug fragments to be found in your food as it would be almost impossible to filter them all out.
The FDA states that you are not eating the bugs themselves, only their bug body parts. Not really too sure if that makes it better or now, however, the government’s Defect Levels Handbook states that there is a limit of no more than 30 insect parts per 100g of peanut butter. This shows that there is a limit and you are not going to find any peanut butter on a store shelf with higher numbers of insects in it.
Statistically, whenever you eat a peanut butter sandwich you are also consuming about eight insect fragments. However, this is average and is not always true. Sometimes you could be eating more and sometimes you could be eating less.
How Do Insect Fragments Get Into Peanut Butter?
You are very likely to be thinking about how any insects or other bugs might even end up in your food in the first place.
Well, it happens mostly during the peanut butter processing phase.
While harvesting peanuts and processing peanut butter, it is likely that some bugs can just fall in. Naturally, they will be removed as a whole but it is possible that some of their small pieces will remain.
Processed peanut butter is prone to having bug pieces in it yet you are no safer by opting for organic peanut butter. All types of peanut butter are likely to have insect fragments in them.
Is It Safe to Eat Bugs in Peanut Butter?
The FDA would not allow this to happen if it was not safe for bodily consumption. While their reasoning of ‘it is only bug parts’ may not fill you with confidence, you are completely safe to eat these insect fragments.
There are no diseases or bacterial infections that can be caused by the consumption of these small body parts, so it is best to just forget about them. Thankfully there is at least a limit. The amount of bug parts allowed in peanut butter is capped at 30 per 100g. This cap allows for 90 insect fragments per jar of peanut butter. Assuming the jar is 300g, of course.
Without this cap, companies and producers of peanut butter would most likely be a lot more careless and just allow as many pieces in your butter as they please. With the government saying that there is a limit, we are thankfully saved from having to eat bug butter.
The best thing to do entirely is just to try not to think about it. Next time you want to eat peanut butter, think about cartoons and dogs while you’re spreading it on your bread.
How Is Peanut Butter Made?
Peanut butter is surprisingly easy to make from the raw materials needed. While it is done at an industrial level for mass production, this is incredibly simple to do at home when broken down into basic steps.
Firstly, peanuts have to be harvested. On an industrial level, there is a lot of work involved in farming these peanuts and making sure they are healthy right up until the day they are harvested. For the home cook, this can be as simple as buying some peanuts in bulk. You are looking for raw peanuts that are still in the shell. This is to make sure they are untampered with.
Once the nuts have been harvested or purchased, they need to be shelled. The shelling process is not too difficult. But it can be very mindless and boring when done on your own at a slightly larger scale. While the factories have large machines that help shell and filter the peanuts, at home you have to just open them by hand.
For this, I recommend that you have two rather large bowls. One bowl is for the peanuts and the other bowl is for the shells. This will keep everything organized and tidy. All that is left to do is throw on your favorite show or playlist and get to work.
When your peanuts have successfully had their shells removed, it is time to dry roast them. This is done by placing your peanuts in the oven and letting them bake. The point of dry roasting is to remove moisture from the peanuts without the use of water or oil as a carrier for heat and moisture. The best way to do this at home is to place your peanuts on a baking tray. Bake them at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes. Make sure you shake the tray a bit every 3 minutes or so, just to make sure they are evenly roasted.
On an industrial level, the peanuts would then need to be mass cooled as they will be incredibly warm. As there are so many peanuts in one space, they will start to cook due to residual heat. When you are doing this at home, once they are taken out of the oven, it is unlikely they will need to cool down any further.
One of the last steps in terms of preparation is called blanching. This is where you remove any leftover outer layers of the peanut. The peanut skin is not needed so it is removed. Industrially, this is done with rubber belts that use friction to remove the skins. You can do this too by wearing rubber gloves and applying pressure to the outer skins. Mass-produced peanuts are also cut in half and have the heart removed due to their bitter taste. This is completely optional and is more for the perfectionist.
The most important step in this process is grinding. We need to turn the peanuts into something more comparable to the end product. At home, you can use a food processor. Or a fine blender that is capable of grinding the peanuts into tiny bits.
To make the consistency a lot smoother, peanut oil should be added in small amounts until the ideal consistency is achieved. To flavor the peanut butter, it is very common that salt is added. Peanut oil is chosen. It will not change the flavor of the peanut butter, if you were to use a different oil such as olive oil or sunflower oil, the result may differ.
Should You Worry About Bugs In Peanut Butter?
As mentioned, while there are indeed bugs in your peanut butter, they are in such low numbers that you cannot notice them. On top of this, they are perfectly safe to eat and cannot be removed as it is nearly impossible.
It is a weird thought that you’re consuming bugs. But once you try and forget about it, you will be fine. You can go back to happily eating peanut butter all day, every day!
FAQs on Bugs in Peanut Butter
All peanut butter has bugs in it. This is unavoidable as you cannot prevent insect fragments from winding up in the peanut butter and you also cannot remove them easily. This is not ideal although it is safe to eat and the government allows for 30 bug fragments to be in 100g of peanut butter.
While it is impossible to tell what kind of bugs are in it, peanut butter is known for having traces of bug fragments in it. This is because, during the processing period, bugs can fall into the peanut butter and leave fragments in it.
It is completely safe to eat peanut butter. Despite the fact that there are small amounts of bug fragments in peanut butter, it is still completely safe to consume the peanut butter. The FDA and government both allow for this to happen as it is impossible to remove all of the pieces and it does not harm you in the slightest.