Unless you happen to be allergic, you probably grew up eating the childhood essential meal, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, at some point. And now, with more peanut butter varieties than ever, ranging from crunchy to smooth, peanut butter remains a favorite among adults and children alike.
However, among the list of expected ingredients of peanuts, salt, maybe a little sugar, and oil, there’s a possible one that’s not so expected: insect fragments.
Yes, you read that right. Confused? Let’s investigate the claim... are there actually bugs in peanut butter?
Are there bugs in peanut butter?
According to the FDA, insect and rodent filth can appear in peanut butter, but in very small fragments. The FDA limits insect filth to an average of 30 or more fragments per 100 grams of peanut butter, and rodent filth to an average of one or more rodent hairs per 100 grams of peanut butter.
According to CNN Health, the average serving size of peanut butter is 2 tablespoons or around 28 grams. This means that according to FDA limits, there could be around eight insect fragments and possibly the tiniest bit of rodent filth in an average serving.
This may seem gross or outrageous, and you may be reconsidering ever eating peanut butter again, but I beg you to please listen. Peanut butter is not unique in these conditions. In fact, much of the food we eat contains things that we might not wish to be there. Like bugs.
With the current FDA limits, many foods contain unavoidable defects that “present no health hazard," per the FDA.
In fact, peanut butter is one of the more regulated foods on the FDA list, per CNN Health. That's especially true when comparing peanut butter to apple butter, where more than four rodent hairs and five entire insects are allowed per 100 grams.
Are all peanut butters vegan?
Luckily, most peanut butters are vegan because the ingredients are often just peanuts, salt, and possibly oil. The most common way for peanut butter to become a non-vegan snack is if honey is added. Some popular peanut butters that are certified vegan include, MaraNatha Nut Butters, JUSTIN’S Classic Peanut Butter, and Teddie All Natural Peanut Butter.
You may be asking though, should vegans be concerned about the possibility of bugs? Honestly, no. This is because, according to Mashed, most foods including vegetables, fruits, packaged snacks, etc, contain some amount of insect fragments.
Even the most experienced quality control team cannot remove every single microscopic insect fragment. Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist and agricultural and human sciences professor at North Carolina State University told CNN Health, “I look at it as a yuck factor versus a risk factor. Insect parts are gross, but they don’t lead to foodborne illnesses.”
In comparison to eating raw or undercooked food that could contain bacteria, or ingesting harmful metals, plastic, or glass parts that could appear in processed foods, insect and rodent filth do not pose nearly as large of a threat, according to Chapman.