How to Make Sure Your Peanut Butter Is Safe

peanut butter recall© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Before you make your kids a PB&J for lunch tomorrow, check your pantry. Unilever, one of the world’s largest food conglomerates, has just announced a recall involving two varieties of its Skippy peanut butter because of fears of salmonella contamination. The possibly tainted products include jars of Skippy Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread that were sold in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. To ensure your safety as well as your children’s, follow these tips:

Look at the lid. If yours is stamped with either the UPC code 048001006812 or 048001006782, or with the best-if-used-by date MAY1612LR1, MAY1712LR1, MAY1812LR1, MAY1912LR1, MAY2012LR or MAY2112LR1, toss the jar. It may be contaminated.

Stay informed. For more information and the latest news on the outbreak, call the consumer hotline at 800-453-3432. Or log onto the FDA website.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Peanut butter is one of the healthiest foods around. It contains monounsaturated fat that can actually reduce your risk of heart disease—up to 21%, according to one study. Plus, it’s a great source of protein, fiber, and anti-oxidants. Keep abreast of the latest health scares, but don’t avoid peanut butter altogether if you enjoy it. And know that not all peanut butters are created equal. Here’s how to find the healthiest, best-tasting ones out there.

1) Skip the low-fat types. Yes, they have marginally less fat, but they also contain up to double the sugar, along with fillers and other empty carbs, while boasting none of the good fat found in the regular varieties.

2) Read the label. Avoid brands that list trans fats, sugar, and preservatives among the ingredients. The healthiest offerings—all-natural and/or organic ones—contain peanuts, sometimes salt, and not much else.

3) Try them out. There are plenty of delicious all-natural brands out there, and you may like one better than another. See which ones won Real Simple magazine’s taste test.

4) DIY. If you really want to know what goes into your peanut butter, make it yourself. Many health food and grocery stores let you grind your own.

Plus: 5 Peanut Butter Alternatives

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