Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Peanut Butter

SALMONELLA OUTBREAK LINKED TO PEANUT BUTTER: FDA INVESTIGATION LEADS TO NUMEROUS COMPANY RECALLS OF FOOD PRODUCTS

Government Officials Request Criminal Investigation of Peanut Corporation of America and Salmonella Contaminated Peanut Butter Products

The trial lawyers at Keefe Law Firm are investigating recent news of the serious risks of harm posed by an outbreak of Salmonella Typhinmurium in various states linked to several peanut butter products including such items as candies, cookies, crackers, ice cream, snack bars and pet food. This national salmonella outbreak has currently sickened at least 485 people in 43 states and Canada. The numbers of sick people by state are indicated bellow:

Alabama (1), Arizona (10), Arkansas (4), California (62), Colorado (12), Connecticut (9), Georgia (6), Hawaii (3), Idaho (11), Illinois (5), Indiana (4), Iowa (2), Kansas (2), Kentucky (3), Maine (4), Maryland (8), Massachusetts (42), Michigan (25), Minnesota (35), Missouri (9), Mississippi (3), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (11), New Jersey (s19), New York (18), Nevada (5), North Carolina (4), North Dakota (10), Ohio (65), Oklahoma (2), Oregon (7), Pennsylvania (14), Rhode Island (4), South Dakota (2), Tennessee (9), Texas (6), Utah (5), Vermont (4), Virginia (20), Washington (13), West Virginia (2), Wisconsin (3), and Wyoming (2). Additionally, one ill person was reported from Canada.

See the link to the Centers for Disease control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium/ It is also believed that 6 deaths are connected with the contaminated peanut butter products.

State health officials and representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) have studied the various foods eaten by individuals infected by Salmonella and determined that peanut butter is a “likely source” of the Salmonella outbreak. This finding was made after Salmonella had been found in a five-pound tub of peanut butter. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) stated that it was collaborating with the CDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and public health officials in many states to address the outbreak of Salmonella infections. Epidemiological studies have not initially implicated any specific brand of peanut butter.

The FDA stated that it was continuing its investigation of a peanut butter manufacturer, based upon data from epidemiological investigations and laboratory testing conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Agriculture. Product testing had indicated the presence of Salmonella Typhimurium bacteria of the same strains found in the ongoing outbreak in an (open) 5-pound container of peanut butter.

The FDA’s investigation included an inspection at the distributor and the manufacturer for the contaminated sample collected by the state.The manufacturer’s inspection was coordinatedwith state and CDC officials and was two-pronged:
(1) to gather samples and
(2) to collect epidemiological information including records on distribution of the product. Samples of the contaminated peanut butter were being analyzed by FDA food poisoning officials.

The 5-pound container, which tested positive for salmonella contamination, appeared to be manufactured for sale to institutions such as nursing homes, cafeterias, etc… State officials in Minnesota were coordinating their investigation with CDC and the FDA.
This distributor had already taken voluntary action to withdraw its unsafe peanut butter products from the marketplace.
http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/salmonellatyph.html#salmonella

Numerous companies have issued recalls or taken preventive measures since news of the investigative findings was disclosed. On January 10, 2009 the Ohio company of King Nut Companies, announced a recall of peanut butter distributed under the King Nut label. King Nut Companies is a distributor of peanut butter manufactured by the Peanut Butter Corporation of America.

King Nut Companies apologized for the Salmonella contamination but also appeared to shift the blame in its statements below:

“We are very sorry this happened,” said Martin Kanan, president and chief executive officer of King Nut Companies. “We are taking immediate and voluntary action because the health and safety of those who use our products is always our highest priority.”
“Because we don’t manufacture peanut butter, we will do what we can to get this product out of distribution and will work with the manufacturer to inform others of this problem,” Kanan said. “We also distribute peanut butter from this manufacturer under the Parnell’s Pride brand, although we are not the only distributor. However, we have asked our customers to remove this brand as well.”

The entire recall article can be found at http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/kingnut01_09.html

On January 13, 2009, the Peanut Butter Corporation of America announced a voluntary recall of peanut butter produced in a Georgia processing facility because of the potential Salmonella contamination. Peanut Butter Corporation is a peanut processing company and maker of peanut butter for bulk distribution to institutions, food service industries and private label food companies. The press release emphasized that the recalled peanut butter was not apparently sold directly to consumers in retail stores. The press release includes the potentially contaminated lot numbers of products and a brief description of the side effects of Salmonella.

In its release The Peanut Corporation of America announced a nationwide recall of peanut butter. The Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), a peanut processing company and maker of peanut butter for bulk distribution to institutions, food service industries, and private label food companies. It announced a voluntary recall of peanut butter produced in its Blakely, Georgia processing facility because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. All product affected was produced on or after July 1, 2008, specific to the lot numbers and descriptions listed below. The peanut butter being recalled is sold by PCA in bulk packaging to distributors for institutional and food service industry use. It is also sold under the brand name Parnell’s Pride to those same industries. Additionally, it is sold by the King Nut Company under the label King Nut. PCA initiated this recall after an open container of King Nut brand peanut butter in a long-term care facility in Minnesota was found to contain a strain of salmonella. King Nut brand peanut butter is produced by PCA. According to the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Department of Agriculture, the Minnesota laboratory analyses on the contamination in the already-opened container of peanut butter have the same genetic fingerprint as the cases in the national outbreak that has sickened almost 400 people in 42 states. According to a CDC update issued on their website (January 13, 2009), preliminary analysis of an epidemiologic study conducted by CDC and public health officials has suggested peanut butter as a likely source. The CDC and other public health officials are continuing to conduct surveillance for cases of infection with the outbreak strains, and to gather and analyze data or exposures that may be associated with illness.

Eating food contaminated with Salmonella can result in abdominal cramping, diarrhea, and fever. Most people infected with Salmonella develop the symptoms 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses. For more information on the salmonella bacteria, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website at http://www.cdc.gov.

Lot Numbers Affected:
8193, 8194, 8197, 8233, 8234, 8235, 8241, 8255, 8256, 8275, 8276, 8282, 8283, 8284, 8296, 8316, 8330, 8331, 8336, 8345, 8354

Stock Numbers Descriptions Pack Size Affected
551000 Creamy Stabilized Peanut Butter

6 ct / 5 lb

551006 Crunchy Stabilized Peanut Butter

6 ct / 5 lb

551020 Creamy Stabilized Peanut Butter

35 lb

551022 Natural Course Peanut Paste

35 lb

551025 Old Fashioned Creamy Peanut Butter with 1% Salt

35 lb

551035 Crunchy Natural Peanut Butter

35 lb

551040 Creamy Natural Peanut Butter

35 lb

551050 Creamy Stabilized Peanut Butter

50 lb

551050-D Dark Creamy Stabilized Peanut Butter

50 lb

551051 Creamy Stabilized Peanut Butter with Monodiglyceride

50 lb

551053 Crunchy Stabilized Peanut Butter

50 lb

551072 Peanut Butter Variegate

45 lb

http://www.fda.gov/oc/po/firmrecalls/kingnut01_09.html

On January 14, 2009, the Kellogg Company announced a precautionary hold of various products due to the recent Salmonella outbreak connected to the contaminated peanut butter. The hold includes such items as:

  • Austin® and Keebler® branded Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers
  • Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers
  • Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers

Kellogg Company’s own investigation has not discovered any concerns or consumer complaints regarding their peanut butter products. However, the company has taken such precautionary measures by putting a hold on its inventory, removing the listed products from store shelves and advising customers and consumers not to eat these products.

In addition, the following companies and food products have been most recently recalled as a result of the ongoing investigation of contaminated peanut butter.

Recalled Candy Products
People Chow Party Mix and Assorted Truffle Fudge (Hy-Vee)
Various chocolates, fudges and candies (South Bend Chocolate Candy Company)

Recalled Cookie Products
Peanut butter cookie dough (Classic Breaks)
Various peanut butter cookies (Cub foods)
Peanut butter cookies (Evening Rise)
Peanut butter cookies (Famous Amos)
Peanut butter cookies (Food Lion Bake Shop)
Various peanut butter cookies (Hy-Vee)
Soft Batch Homestyle peanut butter cookies (Keebler)
Various peanut butter cookies (Lofthouse)
Peanut butter cookies (Parco Foods Chuck’s Chu nky)
Gourmet cookies (Pasties Plus)
Various peanut butter cookies (WalMart Bakery)

Recalled Cracker Products
Various peanut butter sandwiches/crackers (Austin Quality Foods)
Various peanut butter sandwiches/crackers (Keebler)
Peanut butter sandwich crackers (Little Debbie)
Peanut butter sandwich crackers (Meijer)

Recalled Fruit and Vegetable Products
Apples/Celery with peanut butter (Eating Right)
Apples/Celery with peanut butter (H-E-Buddy)
Celery with peanut butter (Ready Pac Cool Cuts)
Celery with peanut butter (Trader Joe’s)

Recalled Ice Cream Products
Peanut butter ice cream flavors (Meijer)
Peanut butter ice cream, yogurt, bars & flavors (Perry’s)
Peanut butter ice cream flavors (Private Selection)
Peanut butter cup ice cream (Shurfine)
Peanut butter ice cream flavors & bars (Wegman’s)

Recalled Peanut Butter Products
Peanut butter (King Nut)
Peanut butter (Parnell’s Pride)
Various peanut butter flavors (Peanut Corporation of America or Parnell’s Pride)

Recalled Peanut Paste Products
Peanut butter pastes (Peanut Corporation of America or Parnell’s Pride)

Recalled Pet Food Products
Assorted sizes & flavors (Grreat Choice)

Recalled Pet Food Peanut Paste Products
Pet food paste (Peanut Corporation of America or Parnell’s Pride)

Recalled Snack Bar Products
Various peanut & peanut butter bars (CLIF BAR)
Peanut butter bars (Evening Rise)
Peanut butter Blisscrisp flavor snack bar (JamFrakas)
Peanut & peanut butter bars (LUNA)
Peanut butter cookie flavor snack bars (LÄRABAR)
Various peanut & peanut butter snacks (MOJO)
Peanut butter chocolate nutrition bar (NutriPals)
Peanut butter granola bar (NutriSystem)
Peanut butter flavored Optimum energy bars (Optimum Energy Bars)
Chocolate peanut crunch nutrition bar (TITAN)
Various flavored nutrition bars (TWISTED)
Peanut butter and peanut bars (ZonePerfect)

Since the initial recalls, peanut butter contamination has also been found by the Connecticut Department of Health on January 19, 2009 in an unopened container of King Nut peanut butter. Due to the widespread distribution pattern, there are currently over 125 recalled products listed on the FDA’s website and will surely increase as more information is obtained.

As the FDA, public health and corporate investigations continue, consumers should remain well informed and carefully monitor the FDA alerts and website and ensure that they are not using any of the potentially contaminated Salmonella peanut butter products listed herein.

Salmonella are bacteria that can live in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Salmonella contamination can cause diarrhea, fever, or abdominal cramps. The long term consequences of Salmonella in some persons can lead to the development of pain in their joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called Reiter’s syndrome. It can last for months or years, and can lead to chronic arthritis. Serious and potentially fatal cases of Salmonella are more likely in young children, frail or elderly people, and people with weak immune systems. Those cases can happen when salmonella infection spreads from the intestines to the blood and other parts of the body. If you think you or a loved one may have been injured by consuming any of these Salmonella contaminated products, please seek medical treatment and contact the trial lawyers at our law firm.

The product liability attorneys at Keefe Law Firm are hard at work doing their part to protect the public from potentially dangerous food products as these Salmonella contaminated peanut butter products. If you or a loved one has used or is using one of these potentially harmful goods such as contaminated peanut butter and suffered injury you may have a legal claim or lawsuit related to these defective peanut butter products. Contact the trial attorneys at Keefe Law Firm to see if they can help you with your potential food poisoning case.

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