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Thread: Is my peanut butter safe?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
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    Chicago, IL
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    Question Is my peanut butter safe?

    I bought organic natural peanut butter quite a while ago. I finally finished off my other jar of peanut butter last week and went into the pantry to open the new jar. Well, the seal was broken on it. I don't think it was broken when I bought it--I keep my peanut butter upside down in the pantry to make stirring it easier and I suspect the seal broke somehow while it was upside down. I went ahead and stirred it and put it in the fridge (it smelled fine). Do you think it's safe? I had heard that natural peanut butter kept unsealed in the pantry could produce botulism. I'm hoping some of our food experts out there might be able to help me. Would botulism make it smell bad? Thanks for any help--I really want to make the Fettuccine and Tofu with Finger-licking Peanut Sauce on Thursday but I don't want to poison us.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
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    Upstate, SC
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    Post

    Hmmm, I have never hear of botulism in peanut butter. I have heard of spores in honey and in canned foods though. The thing with this bug (sorry, I don't remember the exact name of the bacteria, my food microbiology prof would be disappointed in me), is that the bug itself doesn't make you sick like with E.coli. The bug produces a toxin which you can't taste or smell, so there is no way to tell. This toxin won't just make you sick for a few days, it will make you really sick and it is even worse for small children. This is one thing you don't want to mess around with, so the "when in doubt, throw it out" rule may apply here.

    I could swear that this microbe is anerobic meaning it doesn't need oxygen, so I don't know why breaking the seal would cause it to go bad. I do think I remember reading on this board that natural peanut butter can be kept in the pantry, so you might want to do some searches on that.

  3. #3
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    It's my understanding that breaking the seal allows the spores in to the food in the first place but then the oil in the peanut butter creates the anaerobic condition needed for it to thrive. I read that post re: it being safe but I posted there that I had heard this about botulism. Maybe I'm being paranoid. I think it was Kim who said she didn't have a problem keeping pb in the pantry and since she hasn't had a problem maybe it's fine.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    Knoxville, TN
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    Botulism is an anerobic bacteria. It grows in the absence of air, so I would think that other bacteria would be your main worry. If those bacteria are reproducing and putting out their toxins all the cooking or refrigeration in the world won't help.

    I just saw a guy getting sick (from chemo - not pb!) and I would most definitly say that the cost of a new jar of organic, natural pb is worth not losing your lunch!!!

    Lisa

  5. #5
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    Aug 2000
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    Chicago, IL
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    All right, the food experts have spoken. I guess my fear of botulism was unfounded but still sounds like I better not eat it. I just hate wasting food. I guess I won't use the upside down in the pantry method anymore. Thanks so much for you advice.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Nashville TN
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    Post

    We always keep our pb in the pantry...dont like it cold, and have never had a problem with it


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2000
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    Knoxville, TN
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    ooooh! You could keep it (labeling it with a skull and cross bones of course) and spread it on a pine cone and roll it in bird seed for the birdies this winter!!

    That way you won't be "wasting it"

    Lisa

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Jenkintown, PA
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    Why don't you just try taking it back and exchanging it from the store you bought it? It might have been broken when you got it, and I'm sure if it's a reputable store they'll be happy to exchange it for you.

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