Sunday is National Peanut Butter Day

January 24 is National Peanut Butter Day in the United States.  Peanuts are the No. 1 snack nut in the country, accounting for two-thirds of all consumed snack nuts.  The average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products a year.

Half of all peanuts produced in the U.S. are used to make peanut butter.  It takes about 540 peanuts to make one 12-ounce jar of peanut butter.  The average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before graduating high school.  On average, women and children prefer creamy peanut butter, while men prefer chunky.  The most popular accompaniment is strawberry jam.

About 4-6 percent of people have a peanut allergy, one of the most common and severe food allergies.  Reactions can include cardiac arrest or anaphylaxis that leads to swelling of the tongue and throat.  Even minute traces of peanuts can be life-threatening.

Working with Agilent, U.S. scientists researched methods for detecting the presence of peanuts in food.  Using an Agilent LC, Q-TOF mass spec, Poroshell column and Mass Hunter software, they were able to isolate several peptides (short chains of amino acids) that can be used as markers to detect peanuts and tree nuts in both roasted and unroasted forms.  The researchers believe this is the most comprehensive LC/MS method for detecting and quantifying nuts.

Agilent also helps to ensure the safety of peanuts and peanut butter.  Aflatoxins and mycotoxins are poisonous and cancer-causing chemicals produced by molds that grow in the soil.  Many countries and regulatory agencies impose strict limits on their presence in crops such as nuts, grains and dried fruits.  An Agilent HPLC with fluorescence detection can determine the presence of aflatoxins in corn and peanut butter.  An Agilent LC/MS/MS can screen for numerous mycotoxins in food, including nuts, peanut butter and infant formula.

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