Saturday, February 17, 2007

Trans Fat in Peanut Butter: Not So Much

I indicated in my last post that Peter Pan Peanut Butter could contain up to 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving (a serving is 2 tablespoons = 32 grams). Afterwards, out of curiosity, I went searching for an exact amount. What I found is good news.

In fact, it's such good news that Peter Pan (and Jif, and Skippy, etc.) would probably benefit from stating on their label the actual amount of trans fat per serving, instead of rounding the number to zero and having some fanatic make unflattering assumptions.

In 2001, the USDA sponsored a study1 that measured the amount of trans-fatty acids in 11 brands of peanut butter, including Jif, Peter Pan, Skippy, Smuckers, and freshly ground peanuts. Their findings:
"No trans-fatty acids were detected in any of the samples in an analytical system with a detection threshold of 0.01% of the sample weight."
- Non-detectable levels of trans-fatty acids in peanut butter
Trans fats are very likely present since hydrogenated fat is present. What this study tells us is that the amount of trans fat in their samples was very small ... not more than 0.01% or 0.0032 grams in a 32 gram serving. Assuming they haven't changed their recipe much since 2001, you could eat the whole 1 lb. jar (actually 510 grams) and still only take in at most 0.05 grams of trans fat. (The whole jar provides about 3040 calories and 272 grams total fat.)

To make it up to them, I'll post a little Peter Pan trivia...

The brand Peter Pan emerged in 1928. It was one of the first companies to use a new process which churned peanuts into a smoother consistency than was widely available at the time, and which made the product "shelf-stable" or resistant to separation. The patent for that process was secured by Joseph L. Rosefield who, in 1932 had a falling out with Peter Pan and began selling his own product under the Skippy label the following year.2

Peter Pan peanut butter was originally packaged in a tin can with a turn key and re-closable lid. The packaging was changed to glass jars during World War II to save metal.3

1 The study was partially funded by the American Peanut Council.
2 From
3 From Wikipedia: Peter Pan Peanut Butter.
Photo compliments of the American Package Museum.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information! I was always curious about how much of the stuff was in peanut butter.

Anonymous said...

I believe this may be incorrect since salt is below it on the menu and there are typically 150 mgs per serving. There are 7 grams of sugar, which is above it on the label. therefore it must actually be somewhere in between. but not .00032

Anonymous said...

Hi, the calculation is correct, not that it is a big deal, just want to save the credibility of what they are saying here.

1% on a calculator = .01
0.1% = .001
0.01% = .0001 on a calculator

1% of 32 grams (.01*32) = .32 grams
.1% of 32 grams (.001*32) = .032 grams
and .01% of 32 grams (.0001*32) = .0032 grams

The Country Tart said...

Any amount of trans fat causes irreversible damage to the arteries. Not worth it!!!