Health

salmonella, salmonella outbreak, salmonella poisoning

Peanut Butter Recall Issued Among Salmonella Concerns

January 12, 2009 10:26 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
King Nut Company has recalled some of its peanut butter after salmonella was discovered in one open container. But is this really the source of the latest outbreak?

Peanut Butter Eyed as Possible Source

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An Ohio-based company, King Nut Cos, released a statement over the weekend asking customers to return two types of peanut butter sold by the company. The company doesn’t sell its products in grocery stores; they are distributed to restaurants, schools, nursing homes and other such institutions, according to Reuters. The two brands are King Nut and Parnell’s Pride.

“King Nut said it asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter with lot codes beginning with the number eight and has canceled orders with the manufacturer, Peanut Corporation of America,” Reuters said.

Almost 400 people in 42 states have become sick from a salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that has been spreading around the country since September.

USA Today reported that officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are having a hard time finding the source of the outbreak, and they have called in experts from other departments to help with the investigation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Food and Drug Administration and state health officials are all working to determine where the salmonella is coming from, according to Reuters. The CDC stated that poultry, cheese and eggs are the primary sources for the Typhimurium strain, which has sent about 70 people to the hospital so far.

Finding the cause of a food-borne illness can be tough, CDC spokesman David Daigle told Reuters. “People may not remember the foods they recently ate and may not be aware of all of the ingredients in food. That’s what makes these types of investigations very difficult.”

The source of previous outbreak, which spread over the summer, took months to pinpoint and was first erroneously attributed to tomatoes before Mexican peppers were identified as the source.

The jar of peanut butter contaminated with salmonella was found in Minnesota. Officials have not yet said whether the peanut butter is responsible for the current outbreak. But a state health department statement Reuters quoted said, “The Minnesota cases have the same genetic fingerprint” as other cases in the current outbreak.

Background: The last major salmonella investigation

From April through August 2008, health officials conducted one of their largest investigations into food-borne illnesses in a decade when a salmonella outbreak sickened hundreds of people around the country. Raw red round, red Roma and red plum tomatoes were originally cited as potential causes of the outbreak, but the investigation later turned to shipments of peppers and chilies from Mexico. When the investigation centered on tomatoes, millions of dollars in merchandise was destroyed.

Related Topic: Prevalence of food-borne illnesses

In 2008, federal health officials said food-borne illnesses had remained constant in the United States since 2004. Food safety experts maintained that people were more likely to be involved in a car crash than become ill from eating vegetables. “Fear is still by far the biggest pathogen here, not salmonella,” columnist Marc Siegel was quoted as saying.

Reference: Salmonella

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