Consumers Urged to Avoid Peanut Butter Products During Salmonella Probe
< Jan. 21, 2009 > -- The peanut butter recall continues to heat up as products containing peanut butter are being pulled from store shelves.
In the wake of a widespread salmonella outbreak, peanut butter products are being removed from the shelves due to recalls. A growing list of grocery store chains and other retailers are heeding the warning given by the US Food and Drug Administration ( FDA).
At this time, the focus of the US health warning is on products made with peanut butter or peanut paste, which would include crackers, cookies, or ice cream. However, the FDA does not include jars of peanut butter on the recall list. These items appear safe.
Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition says, "We are urging people not to eat products that have peanut butter until we have better information."
The FDA requested salmonella testing of products containing peanut butter or peanut paste from a Georgia facility owned by Peanut Corp. of America.
"At this time, the FDA has traced a source of Salmonella Typhimurium contamination to a plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which manufactures both peanut butter that is institutionally served in such settings as long-term care facilities and cafeterias, and peanut paste - a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts - that is distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many commercially produced products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream," says the FDA.
As a result of this information, Peanut Corp issued a recall for more products and identified the lot numbers of related peanut butter and peanut paste products manufactured on or after July 1, 2008, at the plant.
However, it still is not clear whether the salmonella found at the plant is the cause of the massive outbreak, health officials say.
The FDA reports that, "The products being recalled are sold by PCA in bulk containers ranging in size from five to 1,700 pounds. The peanut paste is sold in sizes ranging from 35-pound containers to product sold by the tanker container."
In addition, companies have been instructed by the FDA to inform their customers as to whether their peanut butter products have peanut butter or peanut paste obtained from the factory.
The strain of salmonella involved is the most common of more than 2,500 types of the bacteria in the US.
Several stores have conducted tests that have confirmed the presence of salmonella bacteria in some of the packages of snack items and have adhered to the recall instructions given by the FDA.
Foodborne illness related to salmonella contamination has so far affected 43 states and Canada. The official numbers indicate 470 people have been made sick, with six associated deaths.
This recent peanut butter recall has a familiar ring to it - namely, a similar occurrence two years ago involving a company that recalled its Peter Pan brand peanut butter. That outbreak was linked to at least 625 cases of salmonella in 47 states. For more information and specific recall descriptions, visit the FDA's Web site at www. fda.gov.
Always consult your physician for more information.
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Food-borne illnesses affect millions of Americans each year. Often people affected think they have the flu or a virus, but in reality is a victim of a mild case of food poisoning caused by bacteria and viruses found in food.
Most food-borne illnesses are caused by eating food containing certain types of bacteria or viruses. After eating these foods, the microorganisms continue to grow, causing an infection. Foods can also cause illness if they contain a toxin or poison produced by bacteria growing in food.
Several different kinds of bacteria can cause food poisoning. Some of the common bacteria include the following:
- Salmonella and Campylobacter - normally found in warm-blooded animals such as cattle, poultry, and swine and may be present in raw meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasteurized dairy products.
- Clostridium perfringens - may be present in raw meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasteurized dairy products, as well as in vegetables and crops that come into contact with soil. Infection may occur when soups, stew, and gravies made with meat, fish, or poultry are stored improperly or left un- refrigerated for several hours.
- Listeria - mainly associated with raw foods of animal origin.
- Staphylococci - occur normally on human skin and in the nose and throat. These bacteria are transmitted to food when handled.
- Escherichia coli (E. coli) - found in the intestines of healthy cattle. An infection is caused by eating undercooked beef (especially ground beef) or unpasteurized milk.
Young children, the elderly, pregnant women (because of the risk to the fetus), and people with chronic or serious illnesses, whose immune systems are weakened are particularly vulnerable to these infections.
The onset of food poisoning symptoms is usually very sudden and abrupt, often within hours of eating the contaminated food. The following are the most common symptoms of food poisoning: abdominal cramps, watery and/or bloody diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, headache, fever, and
abdominal distention and gas.
Treatment for mild cases of food poisoning is often treated as gastroenteritis, with fluid replacement and medications to control of nausea and vomiting. However, in serious cases of food poisoning, hospitalization may be necessary.
Always consult your physician for more information.