FDA: Avoid Products Made With Peanut Butter

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The Food and Drug Administration has extended its warning about possible salmonella contamination of peanut butter.

Products containing peanut butter are now suspect. That's in addition to peanut butter bought in bulk by large institutions such as hospitals and schools.

The warning covers products such as cookies, crackers, ice cream, cereal and candy that contain peanut butter. On Friday, Keebler and Austin voluntarily recalled various types of peanut butter crackers.

The FDA says peanut butter sold in retail stores is not a problem.

But it suggests that people who have products made with peanut butter on their shelves hold off on eating them until more is known.

Salmonella is a common cause of food poisoning. Infection results in diarrhea, fever and cramping. Most people recover fully, though the infection can be serious in older people, young children and people with compromised immune systems.

There are about 1.4 million cases a year in the United States. Occasionally, public health agencies notice a trend and are able to trace the infection to a particular product. Last year, an outbreak was traced to serrano and jalapeno peppers, after being mistakenly blamed on tomatoes.

Since September 2008, 474 cases of salmonella have been reported from 43 states, and as part of that investigation, salmonella was identified in a vat of peanut butter in a Minnesota long term care facility where at least one person took ill. The FDA is investigating the other cases to see if peanut butter was a factor. So far, they've reported that the bacteria at fault are very similar to the bacteria found in the infected peanut butter in Minnesota.

That peanut butter was made by King Nut, part of Peanut Corporation of America. The company has now recalled all of its peanut butter from the institutions and food service industries that bought it.

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