Salmonella outbreak may linger for 2 years
Source of Article: http://www.ajc.com/services/content/printedition/2009/02/26/peanut0226.html
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The national salmonella outbreak linked to more than 2,600 peanut products could last as long as two years, as contaminated foods sit like ticking time bombs on store shelves and in kitchen cabinets, federal health officials said Wednesday.
The process of identifying those products and ensuring their removal has been complicated and confusing, said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of food safety at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“We’re really concerned. This is not over yet,” Sundlof said. He said the outbreak could last as long as products are around, possibly as long as two years.
That’s because peanut products, seemingly harmless as they linger in homes and the marketplace, can have a relatively long shelf life, officials said. Vegetables and meat, which spoil relatively quickly, must be thrown away.
The recalled products that
officials said were produced by Peanut Corp. of
Despite one of the largest
food recalls in
The national outbreak has sickened 666 people in 45 states and is suspected of causing at least nine deaths.
Meanwhile, the recall that began in mid-January continues to expand with products added to the off-limits list each day.
A previous salmonella outbreak linked to the ConAgra plant in Sylvester that produces Peter Pan peanut butter lasted less than a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That outbreak occurred in 2006 and 2007.
“If somebody has something hidden in the back of the pantry, and pulls it out a year from now and eats it, there could potentially be a new illness,” said Dr. Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC epidemiologist.
The FDA had previously
identified Peanut Corp.’s plant in
Peanut products were
regularly shipped between Peanut Corp.’s Blakely,
The Blakely plant’s
shipments included honey-roasted peanuts, hot and spicy peanuts and other
seasoned products, said Stephanie Kwisnek, a
spokeswoman for the FDA. The
Sundlof, of the FDA, said the
agency suspects that the salmonella contamination originated from the Blakely
plant and was transferred to the
Wherever the contamination began, the plants should have had the proper sanitation and cooking process to eliminate the problem, he said.
Peanut Corp. has three
plants, the ones in
> ON THE WEB: For a list of recalled products, visit www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/salmonellatyph.html#products, or call 1-800-232-4636.
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