Friday, January 23, 2009

The Salmonella Outbreak Involving Peanut Butter

General Mills Inc. and grocers Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. have joined the growing list of food companies and retailers pulling items made with peanut butter amid a salmonella outbreak. The Food and Drug Administration has traced the outbreak to a Georgia plant owned by Peanut Corp. of America, which makes peanut butter and peanut paste and sells it to institutions and food companies. The outbreak may have contributed to the deaths of six people and sickened more than 470 others in 43 states. The government has advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods containing peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination. Peanut butter sold in jars to consumers is not included, officials said. The FDA has created a searchable list of recalled products and brands on the agency's Web site. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the bacteria behind the outbreak is common and not an unusually dangerous strain but that the elderly or those with weakened immune systems are more at risk. At least five of the six people who died were elderly. All had salmonella when they died, though their exact causes of death haven't been determined. The salmonella outbreak is the second in two years involving peanut butter. Salmonella is the nation's leading cause of food poisoning; common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

Peanut Corp. expanded its own recall Sunday to all peanut butter and peanut paste produced since July 1 at its plant in Blakely, Ga. The recalled products were distributed to institutions, food service industries and private label food companies in 24 states

No comments: