EST, January 22, 2009
officials expanded their list of foods contaminated with salmonella-tainted
peanut butter or paste yesterday, urging the public to check their pantries
and trash for any one of the more than 125 products now at risk of carrying
Numerous well-known companies and brands - General
Mills, Kellogg, Kroger Co.,
PetSmart and Clif Bar
& Co. - have voluntarily recalled products.
Yesterday, NutriSystem Inc., a leading provider of
weight-loss products, announced a voluntary recall of its 1.41-ounce peanut
butter granola bars because the product contains peanut butter supplied by the
Peanut Corp. of America.
The company's plant in Blakely, Ga., is the source of bulk peanut butter or
peanut paste for companies that may have added tainted product to cookies,
crackers, health bars, ice cream and pet food.
PCA is a small company, it lists more than 70 food companies as its
customers. It also supplies institutions, such as nursing homes and schools,
and officials investigating the outbreak have said contaminated product has
reached some of the institutions.
Officials from the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reiterated yesterday that the recalls do not affect peanut butter in jars
sold to consumers by grocery outlets.
"To make it easier for consumers, FDA has created a searchable
database" to help identify contaminated products, said Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA's Center for Food Safety and
Applied Nutrition. "We advise consumers not to eat products that have
been recalled. Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating peanut
butter should consult their doctors."
An estimated 486 people in 43 states and one Canadian province have been
sickened since September, and six people have died. Sundlof
said the most recent recorded illness occurred earlier this month.
On Long Island,
three people - all under 18 - have been affected. However, a spokeswoman for
the Suffolk County Health Department said the number could be higher because
many people self-treat salmonella poisoning and do not seek medical
Sunlof said FDA inspectors have not yet been able
to determine whether raw peanuts arriving to be processed at the Georgia
plant were already contaminated.
"We don't know where the company received its peanuts," he said
during a telephone news briefing yesterday. "We understand that the Georgia
plant receives its peanuts from a number of different sources, both domestic
Experts have identified the strain as Salmonella Typhimurium,
a relatively common form of the bacteria. Scientists at the CDC were able to
link cases in dozens of states because the outbreak strain has an
exceptionally rare DNA fingerprint.
Health inspectors in West
Haven, Conn., meanwhile,
announced yesterday they had identified a container of King Nut peanut butter
containing the outbreak strain. School officials in that state have begun
removing peanut-butter products from cafeterias and vending machines.
Locally, Marge McCarrick, school food director for
the North Shore school district, said she hasn't
stopped serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches - the only item that
contains peanut butter in her cafeterias. "All the peanut butter we use
is government commodities," she said, adding state officials assured her
it was safe.
Peanut butter continues to be served in the Brentwood
school district, said spokesman Rick Belyea.
"However, our entire management staff is keeping a watchful eye on
what's being recalled," he said last night. So far, none of the recalled
products are in the district's cafeterias.
Sharon Gardner, food service director for Hempstead
schools, said peanut butter isn't served in the district because of allergy
Huntington school cafeterias haven't served any peanut products,
including peanut butter, for about a year and a half because of allergy
risks, said food service director Charlie McTiernan.
Staff writer Jennifer Sinco Kelleher contributed
to this story.
RECALLED YESTERDAY -Best Brands Corp. recalled its peanut butter
frozen cookie dough.
-Lovin Oven LLC recalled certain Health Valley
Organic Peanut Crunch Chewy Granola Bars.
NutriSystem of Horsham, Pa., recalled certain
lots of its branded 1.41-ounce peanut butter granola bars.
-Dinners Ready Meridian
recalled its November & December Asian Marinated Flank Steak, Indonesian
Chicken and Chicken Satay prepared meals because of
possible health risk.
-Blanton's Candies of Sweetwater,
Tenn., recalled 1,400 pounds of Blanton's
Peanut Butter Sticks packaged in 8-ounce cellophane bags because the peanut
butter in the candy was supplied by the Peanut Corporation of America.
-Country Maid Inc. recalled 2-pound packages of Classic Breaks peanut butter
cookie dough distributed to dealers for various fundraising groups around the
country between Oct. 6, 2008, and Jan. 9, 2009.
recalled assorted Landies and Wegmans
candy products containing chocolate and peanut butter.
Markets recalled two private label peanut butter sandwich
crackers, Weis Quality Cheese Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers and Weis
Quality Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers.
Answers on the outbreak
When did the outbreak start?
Illnesses began around Sept. 8; most, however, started after Oct. 1. Latest
reported illness related to the outbreak was Jan. 8.
How many people have been affected?
Authorities say six deaths may be attributed to salmonella infection. As of
yesterday, 486 cases in 43 states and one Canadian province have been
reported, including 18 in New York.
Patients range in age from 1 to 98 years and 48 percent are female.
What bacteria are causing the outbreak?
This particular strain of salmonella, Salmonella typhimurium,
is a common fecal bacterium carried by rats and birds.
What products are behind the outbreak?
The common denominator is all products contain peanut paste or peanut butter
made at a Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, Ga. PCA distributes its
product in bulk to institutions, other food manufacturers and food service
industries in many states, Canada, South Korea and Haiti. It also sells its
Parnell's Pride peanut butter to those same industries. The King Nut Co.
sells it under the King Nut label. The plant is no longer making any
products, and is recalling all peanut butter and peanut paste produced there
since July 1, 2008.
Are major peanut butter brands safe to eat?
Yes, the Food and Drug Administration says.
How did it happen?
Authorities are still investigating. Peanut butter is not normally thought of
as a high-risk product for salmonella. The bacteria is
supposed to be killed off during roasting. An inspection of the Georgia plant
found salmonella present in floor cracks and in a washroom. No one knows how
the bacteria got there. But the strain found, however, was different from the
outbreak strain linked to the company's peanut products.
What are the symptoms of c?
Most people infected develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72
hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.
What items are affected?
Apart from the Parnell's Pride and King Nut peanut butter, a wide range -
including crackers, cereal, ice cream, candy, cookies, frozen cookie dough,
prepared meals, health bars and some dog food.
-Click here for photos of
some products on the salmonella-tainted risk list