Antivaccine lies–peanut oil and vaccines

The lying liars who lie, also known as antivaccine websites, have one goal in mind: say anything about anything that makes it appear that vaccines are dangerous, repeat it over and over, and then hope that other websites pick it up. Eventually, some people will think it’s a fact, and when you Google this “fact,” there will be so many websites that repeat the same lie (and some innocently, without really critically analyzing it), even a somewhat impartial observer will think that it’s the TRUTH.

About as close as peanuts will come to vaccines.
About as close as peanuts will come to vaccines.

Now, they can’t make obnoxiously obvious lies, because there are lines that one can’t cross before everyone can see it’s a lie or the product of insanity. If an antivaccine website says that aliens from Klingon manufacture the vaccines so that humans will grow a ridge on their forehead, well that would be ridiculous. Cool, but ridiculous. Yes, I know there would be some small number of people who say, “I knew it!” 

Every so often, unfortunately, these lying liars who lie are able to move their lies ever so slightly mainstream, and all of a sudden those of us who are pro-science (pro-vaccine) have to deal with it. One vaccine lying group uses 50-60 year old data from a study of vaccine adjuvants, which examined the usefulness of peanut oil and other compounds as adjuvants (a substance that enhances the immune response to an antigen), then claims that somehow the FDA/CDC/Big Pharma is hiding the fact that peanut oil is in vaccines, and is causing all of the claimed problems from vaccines. 

Another gang of vaccine liars claimed that “what peanuts have in common with vaccines is something that very few healthcare consumers and medical doctors may be aware of: Peanut oil is a hidden and non-stated ingredient in the manufacture of children’s vaccines.” And these fabricators of vaccine myths then state that Shaken Baby Syndrome, a form of child abuse where one or both parents will shake a baby so hard that she suffers trauma and death, is actually not abuse but results from the peanut oil in the vaccine.

Take a breath here. These vaccines liars think that it’s not child abuse, not a violent murderous act, but really the parents are innocent, it’s all about the vaccines, and the peanut oil hiding in the vaccine. If you want any more evidence that vaccine deniers don’t care about children, only about their antivaccine cause, here it is. I don’t want to debunk this myth, because I’ve got to assume that anyone with more than a handful of neurons firing in their brain would see this for the vile lie that it is.

But if you need more in formation, Orac himself should dissuade anyone, even a marginally intelligent antivaccination pusher, from accepting this lie. Any reasonable person would get sick knowing a violent murderer might get away with that murder using the “vaccines really did it” defense.

Back to peanuts.

Like I mentioned, sometimes these lies leak out into the mainstream science community unintentionally. Recently, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI), a professional medical organization of allergists and immunologists, posted a question and answer about peanuts and vaccines in their “Ask an Expert” section (which is a really cool idea of the AAAAI).  The question, which appeared to come from a physician, simply asked:

Are you aware of any vaccines that contain peanut oil as an excipient (editor’s note: also known as an adjuvant)? I have a patient who insists that some vaccines contain peanut oil and that is why the prevalence of peanut allergy has continued to rise.

The expert who answered, Phil Lieberman MD, seemed to be unaware of just how crazy the vaccine deniers can be. Dr. Lieberman gave a kind of nuanced response, and those of us who’ve been doing this for awhile know if you give a subtle response, the antivaccination forces will use it as “proof.” The expert wrote:

The issue of peanut antigen in vaccines, at least according to my assessment of the reading material available, is similar to the issue of adverse effects of mercury in vaccines. It seems to be fueled by consumer message boards and consumer-oriented websites. These websites and consumer message boards, as best I can tell, claim that small amounts of peanut allergen contaminate vaccines and are not listed as an ingredient in the package insert. I personally have not been able to find any confirmation in the medical literature of contamination of vaccines by peanut antigen.

For your interest, I have copied below several links to consumer websites and message boards that discuss this issue. However, as previously noted, I am not aware of any documentation in the medical literature of the contamination of vaccines by peanut antigen.

There’s several problems with his response:

  1. To a science person, yes the peanut lie is right up there with mercury (actually thiomersal). The problem is, to the antivaccination gangs, comparing peanut oil in vaccines to mercury in vaccines kind of proves their point. If I were them, I’d quote that sentence out of context and post it to every vaccine lying forum on the internet.
  2. The expert failed to actually go find out if peanut oil could conceivably in the ingredient list of vaccines. Because vaccine refusers, using the Argument from Ignorance logical fallacy, will claim that if you can’t “prove” there’s no peanut oil in vaccines, then there must be peanut oil in vaccines.
  3. Then Dr. Lieberman lists five websites from irresponsible vaccine liars to show who’s been pushing this particular myth. Why give them credibility by linking from a credible and scientific AAAAI website.

Now, maybe I’m more used to the full-throated scientific support that is necessary to contradict most lies of the antivaccination crowd. But Dr. Lieberman’s response was just a tad weak, and could conceivably be used by the vaccine deniers as I mentioned.

Lucky for us, one of the more vocal (and much kinder than I would ever be) pro-science writers, Karen Ernst, somehow used her secret connections in the pro-vaccine conspiracy (which means she called real physicians to find out if she could get involved with the peanut oil manufactroversy) to append a reply to Dr. Lieberman. Here are the key points she made:

  1. This myth is based on 50 year old studies to find better adjuvants for vaccines. I assume that it didn’t work or the risk of peanut allergy, well know since peanuts became a food source, was so high that the risks outweighed any benefits.
  2. The Code of Federal Regulations, the written law that regulates every US government entity, including the FDA, makes it plainly clear–ALL ingredients in pharmaceutical and medical products must be made public in the product labeling. Not doing so, according to FDA regulations, can be a criminal act, but it will at least result in fines and other penalties. The unbending culture of closely and tightly regulated ingredients, and making public any change, is ingrained deeply into the DNA of every single employee of pharmaceutical companies. I can see where Big Pharma bends rules on labeling and advertising, and I am fully aware of the unethical marketing practices, but in manufacturing, that just isn’t going to happen. It is beyond delusional if anyone thinks this can or will intentionally happen. No one is going to risk prison for their Big Pharma overlords. Let me put this as clear as I can–if an ingredient is listed on the package insert, it’s there. If it isn’t in the package insert, it isn’t there.
  3. The CDC states very clearly that  “aluminum gels or aluminum salts are the only vaccine adjuvants currently licensed for use in the United States”–short of inventing a circuitous chain of conspiracies and paid-off shills, there is just no evidence, none, that support any claim that there is peanut oil in vaccines.

When this peanut oil issue was brought to my attention yesterday, I thought “this is a joke, right?” Because it must be.

I then thought that I’m going about this all wrong. It takes so little work to invent a lie, and so much work to refute it, I’m on the wrong side of the vaccine discussion. With my background in science, I’d be a much better cherry picker than these lunatics at the various vaccine liars websites. And I could write out a whole bunch of scientific nonsense, using the best principles of pseudoscience, to make up fecal-based antivaccine propaganda. I could get rich. I could be the next Andrew Wakefield. I could be the famous* Skeptical Raptor who changed his mind about vaccines.

You read it here first. There’s DDT in vaccines.**

Use the Science-based Vaccine Search Engine.



*Not so famous.

**No there isn’t.

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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!