Check your pantry for peanut butter

peanuts butter

Oh, woe is me.  I’ve given up my peanut butter habit since the CDC announced a plant in Georgia has been distributing products containing salmonella.

Almost 500 people have become ill from consuming products containing peanut butter from that facility – including three in Mississippi.  Officials are interviewing all the ill to try to determine which products contain the contaminated peanut butter. As of this morning, there have been seven deaths, three in Minnesota.

austin crackers

As of 9PM EDT, Wednesday, January 22, 2009, 491 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 43 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arizona (10), Arkansas (4), California (62), Colorado (12), Connecticut (9), Georgia (6), Hawaii (3), Idaho (11), Illinois (6), 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 (19), New York (18), Nevada (5), North Carolina (6), North Dakota (10), Ohio (67), 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.

Preliminary analysis of data received as of last Sunday, revealed an association between illness and consumption of pre-packaged peanut butter crackers, specifically with Austin and Keebler brands. I won’t go into how the contamination crept into the peanut butter, trust me, you don’t want to know!

Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers are produced by the Kellogg Company in North Carolina, using peanut paste from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA).  On January 14, 2009, the Kellogg Company put a precautionary hold on these peanut butter crackers, and on January 16 recalled these products. Other peanut butter containing products produced by a variety of companies may have been made with the ingredients recalled by PCA. CDC and state health departments continue to investigate the association of other brands and foods that contain peanut butter with illness.

More than 180 peanut butter-containing products produced by a variety of companies may have been made with the ingredients recalled by PCA.  The list of currently recalled products can be found on the FDA website*. FDA and the product manufacturers are working to determine the list of affected products, which may be extensive. Many companies have already announced whether their products include ingredients being recalled by Peanut Corporation of America, Georgia, and more companies are expected to make similar announcements. The current list of recall announcements from companies can be found at FDA website*.

So far no major-brand peanut butters have been implicated. The CDC cautions that the list of products that may be affected is still being determined. The agency recommends avoiding products such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream that contain peanut butter. Do not eat any products on the recall list.

What’s on the recall list?

The list includes Ralcorp Frozen Bakery’s Wal-Mart Bakery brand peanut butter cookies, McKee Foods Corp.’s Little Debbie Peanut Butter Toasty and Peanut Butter Cheese sandwich crackers, and Kellogg’s Austin and Keebler branded Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers and select snack-size packs. For a complete list, see fda.gov or cdc.gov.

What to do to protect yourself:
  • *Do not eat products that have been recalled and throw them away in a manner that prevents others from eating them.  These products include Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers and King Nut brand peanut butter produced since July 1, 2008. (FDA’s web site has recalled lot numbers).
  • *Postpone eating other peanut butter containing products (such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream) until more information becomes available about which brands may be affected.  I understand that contaminated products may not smell “out of sorts.”
  • *Use FDA’s online database to check if foods you’re concerned about are on the recall list. Call the consumer hotline phone number that may be on any product packaging you have to get information directly from the product manufacturer.
  • Persons who think they may have become ill from eating peanut butter are advised to consult their health care providers.
  • *For consumers with pets, please visit Questions and Answers Related to the Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak and Pets. I heard last week that dog biscuits distributed by Pet Smart may contain the contaminated peanut butter.

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