plant is sole salmonella source
Wed Jan 21, 2009 5:00pm EST
Source of Article: http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssConsumerGoodsAndRetailNews/idUSN2149247320090121?sp=true
WASHINGTON, Jan 21 (Reuters) - The sole source of
the U.S. salmonella outbreak involving contaminated peanut butter appears to
be the Peanut Corp of America's Blakely, Georgia processing facility, federal
officials said on Wednesday.
More than 125 products including cookies, crackers,
ice cream and even some pet food have been recalled in connection with the
outbreak, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said.
Six deaths may be associated with the outbreak, the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The CDC said at least
486 people from 43 states and one person in Canada have been reported ill
from the outbreak of the Salmonella typhimurium
strain, with 107 of them being hospitalized.
Stephen Sundlof, director
of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said Connecticut health
authorities tested an unopened container of peanut butter from the PCA's Blakely plant and discovered the strain linked to
the outbreak of illness.
The fact that the unopened container had the strain
indicates contamination did not occur after it was shipped from the facility,
Sundlof said. Coupled with previous evidence, Sundlof said authorities believe the Blakely plant is the
only source of the outbreak.
"That is our assumption at this point. We will
continue to follow up on any leads that point us in a different
direction," Sundlof told reporters during a
The plant is not currently operating, he said.
Sundlof said he expects
the number of recalled products to continue to increase.
Among the latest was by NutriSystem Inc (NTRI.O),
which announced on Wednesday a voluntary recall of its peanut butter granola
bar. On Tuesday, PetSmart Inc (PETM.O),
the largest U.S.
pet-products and services retailer, recalled seven of its Grreat
Choice Dog Biscuit products.
General Mills Inc (GIS.N),
Kellogg Co (K.N)
and other companies also have recalled products.
Authorities say peanut butter sold on grocery store
shelves does not appear to be involved.
PCA has recalled peanut butter and peanut paste
products manufactured since July at the Blakely plant because of potential
Salmonella contamination. Peanut paste is a concentrated product consisting
of ground, roasted peanuts.
PCA manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste distributed
to food manufacturers to be used as ingredients in commercially produced
products. PCA peanut butter also is served in long-term care facilities and
Salmonella can cause abdominal cramping, diarrhea
and fever and it can kill the very young and very old.
"More cases are being reported every day. The
outbreak appears to be ongoing," Dr. Robert Tauxe
of the CDC said.
authorities previously tested an opened container from the plant, and found
the Typhimurium strain.
Sundlof said a federal
inspection of the Blakely plant turned up evidence of salmonella on the
floor, but not the Typhimurium strain.
"It does indicate that there are problems
within the plant because salmonella should not be found there," he said.
(Editing by Julie Steenhuysen
and Cynthia Osterman)