Some rush to declare snacks salmonella-safe

Source of Article:  http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/28774849/

 

Girl Scout cookies, Nutter Butter cookies are OK, food makers say

 

By JoNel Aleccia

Health writer

msnbc.com

 

Go ahead and order the Girl Scout cookies, even the Do-Si-Dos. And don’t worry about Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or Nutter Butter cookies, either.

That’s the word from Girls Scouts of the USA, the Hershey Co. and Kraft Foods Inc., three corporations on a growing list of agencies and food manufacturers rushing to assure consumers their products are safe from a widespread salmonella scare.

“We’re getting lots of calls,” said Michelle L. Tompkins, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts USA.

Neither of the two bakeries that produce 200 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies a year uses products from the Blakey, Ga., plant where federal health officials have confirmed salmonella contamination, Tompkins said.

So far, peanut butter and peanut paste products from the Peanut Corp. of America facility that supplies commercial food producers have led to recalls of at least 130 products, including those from well-known makers such as Kellogg Co. and Keebler.

The items have been linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 485 people in 43 states and contributed to at least six deaths, federal officials said.

As the list of recalled products grows daily, even hourly, producers of other peanut butter-based sweets and other products have rushed to distance themselves from the concern.

“All Hershey and Reese’s candies are safe to consume,” officials from the candy maker said in a statement on their Web site.

For many firms, it's a necessary step to retain consumer confidence, said Nancy M. Childs, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.

"They're fighting the impression that consumers will boycott all peanut butter products," she said.

Recalled products posted on FDA site
The FDA has posted a searchable list of recalled products on its Web site, www.fda.gov.

One firm in particular was quick to declare its products were safe. ConAgra Foods Inc., maker of Peter Pan peanut butter, said it was not involved in the investigation and neither the Omaha, Neb.-based company nor its suppliers use ingredients from Peanut Corp.

Peter Pan and other peanut butter produced by ConAgra were linked in 2007 to a salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 625 people in 47 states. The company traced the contamination to a leaky roof and faulty sprinkler head at its Georgia plant.

·  Kraft Foods, the world's second largest food manufacturer, which makes Nabisco snacks including Nutter Butter cookies, is not recalling any products, the company said. “Neither we nor our suppliers purchase peanut butter or paste from PCA for any of our products, including those sold in the U.S. or Canada under the Kraft, Nabisco and Planters brands.”

·  Russell Stover Candies Inc., maker of Russell Stover and Whitman’s, said Monday it does not use ingredients from Peanut Corp.

·  On its Web site, Quaker Oats, a division of PepsiCo, reported that none of its granola bars or snacks is involved in the peanut recall.

·  Sport protein bar company PowerBar, a division of Nestle, said Wednesday it does not buy or source peanut-based ingredients from Peanut Corp.

The timing of the salmonella outbreak and subsequent recalls is unfortunate for the Girl Scouts, which are beginning now to launch two-thirds of the cookie sales that generate about $700 million a year for the treat-peddling organization. The cookies are baked at ABC Bakers, part of Interbake Foods in Richmond, Ga., and at Little Brownie Bakers in Louisville, Ky. 

Will people suspicious of peanut butter products stop buying Tagalongs and Do-Si-Dos?

“We hope not,” said Tompkins. “We’re optimistic, but it’s too soon to tell.”

 

 

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