No salmonella link to peanut butter in R.I.


07:44 AM EST on Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Source of Article:

PROVIDENCE — There is no evidence — so far — linking peanut butter to four cases of salmonella poisoning under investigation in Rhode Island, according to the state Department of Health, contrary to an article in yesterday’s Providence Journal that implied otherwise.

Health officials in Rhode Island and 42 other states, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, are trying to trace the sources of 410 cases of salmonella reported since last September. The most recent Rhode Island case occurred in November.

Minnesota officials last week said a particular brand of peanut butter, sold to nursing homes and other institutions, was the likely cause of many of 30 cases reported in that state.

The CDC says the peanut butter may have contributed to three deaths, but brands of peanut butter sold in grocery stores have not been associated with the outbreak.

Three of the four people who fell ill in Rhode Island have been interviewed by the Health Department’s Office of Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases, spokeswoman Annemarie Beardsworth said yesterday.

None of the three had eaten peanut butter before they were stricken. Nor was there any other factor linking the three Rhode Island cases to each other, Beardsworth said. No information on the fourth case was available yesterday.

The 410 cases under investigation nationwide all share the same strain of bacteria, but peanut butter has been identified as the cause of only some of them. The same strain of bacteria can come from multiple sources, Beardsworth said.

A week ago, Minnesota officials isolated the bacteria involved in the outbreak to an open 5-pound container of King Nut peanut butter, distributed by an Ohio company to schools, universities, nursing homes and other institutional buyers in seven states. King Nut Companies recalled the peanut butter last week.

—Gina Macris



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