Government officials are investigating an outbreak of salmonella linked to peanut butter sold in bulk.
The suspect peanut butter comes from the Peanut Corporation of America's processing plant in Blakely, Ga., and was made after June 30, 2008. The peanut butter was sold in bulk, under PCA's name, Parnell's Pride or King Nut.
PCA announced a recall of King Nut peanut butter on Jan. 10 and issued a national recall of all of its peanut butter products produced in its Blakely plant on Tuesday. The 21 lots of peanut butter recalled were sold in 5- to 50-pound containers. The company has contacted its customers to alert them to stop distributing potentially contaminated batches.
Kellogg Company also has recalled some products that contain peanut butter supplied by PCA, including Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers, packaged under the Keebler or Austin brands. The company has not received any complaints, but it's encouraging people not to eat any products they've already bought.
Officials say people who buy peanut butter at supermarkets are not at risk. Those most likely to come into contact with the tainted peanut butter are people in institutions — such as long-term care facilities, schools, hospitals, restaurants and cafeterias — that have not identified and removed the suspect lots of peanut butter.
Salmonella bacteria were found in an open peanut butter container at a long-term care facility in Minnesota, where there has been at least one case of sickness. Investigations are underway to uncover whether 30 other sick Minnesotans have salmonella poisoning linked to peanut butter. In addition, since September more than 400 people in 43 states have come down with salmonella that appears to be genetically identical to the Minnesota outbreak. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating a possible link between the peanut butter salmonella and the national outbreak.
Salmonella bacteria cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within a few days of ingestion. Symptoms last four to seven days. Most people recover, but the infection can be serious in the elderly, infants and people with weakened immune systems. It can be deadly if it gets into the bloodstream.
Salmonella outbreaks are not uncommon. Several thousand infections were reported during a salmonella outbreak from May to July last year. Officials initially suspected tomatoes, but the outbreak was eventually traced to serrano and jalapeno peppers.
Click here for a listing of products associated with the current outbreak.