#NLR: Please don’t ever buy peanut butter packaged in plastic “jars”.

#NLR = “Not Lead Related!”

This post has nothing to do with Lead (Pb) or Lead-poisoning — or even heavy metals toxicity; it’s just about peanut butter (the other “P.B.”!)

This is a little bit of advice I have personally been sharing with friends for 17 years now, and I thought it would be good to put it out there to the world.

Here’s the advice: Don’t EVER buy any kind of peanut butter in PLASTIC containers.

Even organic peanut butter should not be bought in plastic containers.

(This advice applies to all nut and seed butters.)

One of my husband’s best friends, Lee Hitchcox is the author of the book “Long Life Now: Strategies For Staying Alive.” In fact my husband helped to edit much of this book. Lee wrote the book after his wife (and the love of his life) died – much too young – from breast cancer.

#NLR: Please don't ever buy peanut butter packaged in plastic "jars".

One of the things he shared in this book (which is a book fundamentally about food-based disease prevention) is that peanut butter packaged in plastic jars is among the most toxic foods out there.

Here’s why:

  • Most of the peanut butter on the grocery store shelves (even in many “natural foods” stores) already contains pesticide and/or fungicide residues, tons of sugar and a host of other additives
  • Peanut butter must also be heated to flow through the machinery for it to be quickly, easily and consistently poured into jars (plastic jars are also often then heat-sealed – the sealing of the combination foil-type/plastic barrier that is usually found under the lid for food safety reasons.)
  • The concern is that the now hot oils/fats in the peanut butter help the plasticizers (in the plastic jars and lids) leach into the food, and along with all the other chemical residues and additives, make for an incredibly toxic product.
  • The plasticizers bond to the oil in the peanut butter as a result of the packaging process.
  • The consumer is then eating plastic… which is why peanut butter packed in plastic is one of the most toxic foods you can purchase.

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As a result of learning this bit of wisdom from our friend Lee many moons ago, we always only buy peanut butter packed in glass jars, and of course whenever possible (budget and availability permitting) we also only choose organic).

This means we don’t buy peanut butter at places like Trader Joe’s or Costco – because their organic peanut butter is currently only packaged in plastic jars.

Here are some safer choices for peanut butter available on Amazon*:

For our family specifically we always buy the “single ingredient” products — no added oils, mix-ins/flavors, sugar, etc. — just peanuts (don’t get me started on added sugars in dietary staples, but most of these brands have versions with and without sugar; some also have them with or without added oils. They add the non-peanut oils to create a more homogeneous product (so it more closely resembles the toxic, sugar-laden “Skippy” or “Jif” we used to eat as kids.)


In response to comments on this post I tested some of these plastic peanut butter jars using XRF technology, click here to see the results of this testing!


As with anything online, please do be sure to read all of the info on the links before purchasing. Personally I buy my peanut butter at our local natural foods grocery stores (I stock up when it is on sale!), so I can be sure I’m selecting the versions without any added sugar or added oils.

Note (for those new to checking out new brands of peanut butter)… the terms “Classic”, “American Classic” or “American Style” (like on the Once Again jar pictured above) generally indicate that there IS added sugar, and usually some added oil as well in that particular product version.

With each of the above choices, please confirm before ordering that you are purchasing the version of the product that comes in a glass jar (as some brands sell in both glass and plastic.)

As always, please let me know if you have any questions.

Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing my posts!

Tamara Rubin
#LeadSafeMama

*Amazon links are affiliate links. If you purchase something after clicking on one of these links I may receive a small percentage of what you spend, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work in this way.

26 Responses to #NLR: Please don’t ever buy peanut butter packaged in plastic “jars”.

  1. Suzanne October 20, 2018 at 2:48 pm #

    Where can you find large containers in glass?

    • Tamara October 20, 2018 at 3:05 pm #

      That’s such a good question. I am sorry not to have answer for you. I think the best option would be to take a ball jar to the type of store where you can grind your own peanuts and buy it by the pound. At our local food Co-op (People’s here in Portland), you can do a tare weight on the jar and then fill it up with freshly ground organic peanuts – so I know there are stores that offer this (You just have to make sure to get the weight of the jar first before filling it up, so you can deduct that weight from the end weight and the price is fair.)

    • Jennifer October 20, 2018 at 3:48 pm #

      I usually buy my organic peanut butter at the bulk store at one of those machines that grinds peanuts into peanut butter. I usually bring a large mason jar and fill it with peanut butter. When I check out, I just tell the cashier the weight of my jar (1 lb) and she subtracts it from the total weight. The peanut butter costs about $4/lb.

      Do you think this is okay Tamara?

      • Tamara October 20, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

        I think that’s a great option, Jennifer!

    • Megan October 20, 2018 at 3:57 pm #

      Smuckers has a fairly large glass jar of natural peanut butter (just peanuts and salt). I think it is 28 oz. The organic version of it comes in a glass jar about half that size, though.

      • Tamara October 20, 2018 at 3:59 pm #

        Thank you for sharing this!

  2. Maureen October 20, 2018 at 3:47 pm #

    Does anyone know about the plastic inner seals of metal lids to glass jars? I have read they contain BPA, BPS and/or vinyl, and that plastisol is a material that is commonly used as a liner of metal lids used for glass jars. According to the website of a manufacturer of plastisol products, plastisol is created from PVC resin, a plasticizer package and a stabilizer package. Wouldn’t potentially toxic chemicals from these plastics in the lids leach into foods? Understandably, if this sort of transfer does occur, there would be fewer toxins from the relatively small amount of plastic(s) in the metal lids of glass jars versus the level of toxins that would transfer from plastic jars with plastic coated seals to the jars’ mouths.

    • Tamara October 20, 2018 at 4:00 pm #

      That’s a good question. I am going to take another look at the inside of the lids of the jars we buy & will post a pic too.

  3. Tammy October 20, 2018 at 8:24 pm #

    How difficult is it to make one’s own peanut butter?

    • Carissa October 20, 2018 at 10:29 pm #

      It’s really easy. You do have to figure out how to source bulk organic peanuts, though.

      • Rudy October 21, 2018 at 2:22 am #

        Nuts.com I think

  4. Katherine October 21, 2018 at 6:24 am #

    You say peanut butter is one of the most toxic foods because of packaging and processing (heating). Does that mean there’s still dietary issues with eating peanut butter at all? Are peanuts a lead or other sink? Does the heating of the peanuts in processing cause other toxicity? Is there issues with the machinery being galvanized? etc We were eating nut butters and away from peanut butter for five years but do to budget constraints we have given up the more expensive nut butters for peanut butter (totally different foods but we eat them the same way with an apple, celery, carrots, added to brownies sometimes). I had hoped to get a big grinder like they have at whole foods but again getting the funds for such an expensive item never came to fruition and I’d hate to get a grinder that had actually leaded or toxic plastic parts (the lid particularly of the vitamix).

    • Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:31 am #

      Hi Katherine! I don’t have any lead (Pb) concerns with peanuts at this time – although I have not researched that very thoroughly. We eat peanut butter (organic, in glass). Our family of 5 with three growing boys goes through about one 16 ounce glass jar a week. When our oldest son is home we might go through two jars a week. That is with a primarily vegetarian/vegan household. We eat a lot of other nuts and seeds and beans and try to keep things balanced (not focused on any one food.) The one food I do try to make my boys eat each and every day is organic local Washington apples – at least one a day per boy (sometimes with peanut butter!)

    • Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:33 am #

      I just posted a few other links to studies and articles in the comments here as well and you may want to take a look at those.

  5. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:13 am #

    My readers have been sharing other studies and articles with me – here’s one from 2018 from Australia; https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/publications/Documents/Survey%20of%20plasticisers%20in%20Australian%20foods.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1_k3Y_P-zd81n5Sz2wVQIolvOCgR7U5W1GrkTIaxGtc3ypw75iivo1asQ

  6. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:19 am #

    This article in the Washington Post from 2014 peripherally discusses the concern, but even the author notes (and is dismissive of) the fact that the study that is cited in the article was funded by the plastics industry:

    “A year later, an assessment of soft drink containers also found plastic superior to glass. (The study was funded by a plastics manufacturer….”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/why-glass-jars-arent-necessarily-better-for-the-environment-than-plastic-ones/2014/06/23/2deecfd8-f56f-11e3-a606-946fd632f9f1_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8ddf37b3adba

  7. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:20 am #

    This may be of interest, shared by my friend Linda on the Facebook link for this post
    “A THIRD OF CHEMICALS BREAK EUROPEAN SAFETY LAWS”:

    https://metamag.org/2018/10/12/breaking-a-third-of-chemicals-break-european-safety-laws/?fbclid=IwAR2Kehjjni6vs9j6vANGvglT2-Mc6bv-rAIMudmUsX8MLKjQilM0cM99u9k

  8. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:22 am #

    Also from Linda (from 2014)
    Study: 175 Hazardous Chemicals Used in Food Contact Packaging;
    https://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/07/study-175-hazardous-chemicals-legally-used-to-produce-food-packaging/?fbclid=IwAR3cyB_XYtMFST6_cBk-jmJmMZGWW7N-KFFuEihx4VmNzl3f5Mla6tF4oCg

  9. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:23 am #

    From the LiveStrong site

    “You commonly find Type 1 plastic in bottles for juices, salad dressing, water, vegetable oil and mouthwash. Peanut butter and pickle jars often contain type 1 plastic as well. Polyethylene teraphthalate is light-weight, clear and smooth; its manufacturers intend it for a single use only.

    While it does not contain bisphenol A or phthalates, it does contain antimony, a possible human carcinogen. Also, harmful bacteria can build up in it as you reuse it. Polyethylene teraphthalate containers may have the symbol “PET” on them.”

    https://www.livestrong.com/article/158674-which-plastic-containers-can-i-safely-use/?fbclid=IwAR1XZFXat5GfS539v6uYUvuE3Cds0hVtK_G31rlFG3E11E5_2NW2I_PGY2c

    • Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:38 am #

      As a result of this concern (specifically the concern for Antimony in PET plastic) I am going to test a few of this type of jar for Antimony (Sb) using XRF technology and will post the results here on my blog shortly.

  10. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 9:57 am #

    Here’s a piece from the Environmental Working Group – not about plastics but about other health concerns with many popular peanut butters:

    https://www.ewg.org/enviroblog/2016/03/what-s-my-peanut-butter

  11. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 5:25 pm #

    Follow up post! I found antimony in the jar when it was tested with an XRF instrument:

    https://tamararubin.com/category/antimony-in-food-packaging/

  12. Tamara October 21, 2018 at 11:30 pm #

    Another good link to check out: Made How – about how they package (and heat and then cool [to some degree] the peanut butter for putting into the jars.)a

    http://www.madehow.com/Volume-1/Peanut-Butter.html?fbclid=IwAR2YGKzbSpcERYdmgiyQMLlh7xnGjpJ1Ujdzbj-VCUmDSWbqwF9xGozVxSA

  13. Carrie October 22, 2018 at 11:26 am #

    Is it the same for other nut butters (almond, sunflower seed, etc) that’s packaged in plastic jars?

    • Tamara October 22, 2018 at 11:47 am #

      I believe it is.

  14. Cubo November 16, 2018 at 5:13 pm #

    There is one other VERY IMPORTANT factor to consider that I do not see mentioned. Much of the peanuts grown in the US have a grave potential for mycotoxins/molds contamination (see: Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus) because of the humid and warm climate in which they grow and the farming methods used. This aflatoxin is a potent carcinogen, known to cause cancer and potentially deadly allergic reactions when eating peanut products. It isn’t the peanut but the mold in the peanut that the body responds to. Eating most peanut butters out of a glass jar is just as potentially bad as eating the safer varieties of peanut butter out of a plastic jar.

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