The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported last Tuesday that 30 people, in 19 American states have become infected with a rare salmonella strain known as Bredeney, likely from tainted, commercially available peanut butter. According to the CDC, the culprit is Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter, which prompted the producer to voluntarily recall their product. Although the outbreak is spread across the United States, Massachusetts has the highest number of infections. The average age of those infected is seven, with four people having been hospitalized as a result.
Food related salmonella outbreaks are on the rise
Surprisingly, this is not the only food related salmonella outbreak to hit the U.S. The CDC has reported no fewer than 12 outbreaks in 2012 alone, with progressively more outbreaks each year since 2006, when the only reported instance involved tomatoes. Aside from peanut butter, other food items that have carried salmonella this year include mangoes, cantaloupe, ground beef, poultry, dog food, tuna products, and food available at a Mexican style fast food chain known as Restaurant Chain A.
Food-borne salmonella infections usually cause a range of symptoms, such as fever, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. As they can be deadly to children, the elderly and people with weakened immunity, health regulators advise those who develop these symptoms to consult their doctor immediately. Trader Joe's misfortune has prompted other companies to remove their peanut butter from stores, on account of a risk of infection.
Make safe peanut butter at home
Fortunately, nut butters are not that difficult to make at home. In fact, they are a staple in the diets of health enthusiasts, vegetarians and vegans everywhere. The advantages of making your own nut butter are that you know where the nuts come from, you can ensure proper hygiene and you don't need to use any preservatives or flavorings that add no nutritional value. And unlike commercially available peanut butter, which is made from roasted and heavily slated peanuts, homemade peanut butter can be raw, less salty and 100 percent clean.
To make peanut butter at home, all you need is a good food processor or blender, a bit of vegetable oil and a handful of nuts. A simple and delicious recipe involves processing two cups of raw peanuts, half a cup of raw almonds, two tablespoons of sunflower oil and a pinch of salt until a smooth, homogenous paste is obtained, which usually takes no more than a few minutes. The same process can be used to make all kinds of nut butters, out of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, and so on.
Raw, homemade peanut butter is bursting with heart-healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as a range of cancer-fighting substances. Resveratrol, a natural disease-fighting phenol that is most famous for occurring in grapes and wine, can also be found in significant quantities in raw peanuts. A 2000 study that investigated the nutritional content of peanuts after different types of processing found that raw peanuts have the highest content of beta-sitosterol, a substance that has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and help prevent colon, prostate and breast cancer.