Peanut butter products recall expands

| 29/01/2009

(CNS): With a salmonella outbreak that has now made more than 500 people sick and may have killed at least eight people, the US Food and Drug Administration has expanded its recall of peanut products. Major national brands of peanut butter are not affected. However, peanut paste made at a Georgia peanut plant where the outbreak originated is found in hundreds of other food products, from ice cream, to Asian-style sauces, to dog biscuits. More information and a full list of recalled products can be found on the FDA website.

 

According to US news reports, federal inspectors reported finding roaches, mould, a leaking roof and other sanitary problems at the Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, Ga, and that managers at the plant continued shipping peanut products even after they were found to contain salmonella. The recall now includes all peanut products produced at the plant since 1 January, 2007, and covers peanut butter, peanut paste, peanut meal and granulated products, as well as all peanuts – dry and oil roasted – and various pet treats produced with peanut butter.

FDA inspectors reported that salmonella had been found previously at least 12 times in products made at the plant, but production lines were never cleaned up after internal tests indicated contamination. Products that initially tested positive were retested. When the company got a negative reading, it shipped the products out.

The Department of Environmental Health (DEH) noted that, while the risk of animals contracting salmonellasis is minimal, there is risk to humans from handling affected pet products. It is especially important for people to wash their hands and make sure children wash their hands after feeding treats to pets.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children; frail or elderly people; and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhoea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances the organism may get into the bloodstream, producing more severe illnesses such as infected aneurysms, endocarditis, and arthritis. The DoEH advises anyone who has eaten any peanut based products and is experiencing any of these symptoms to contact their medical provider immediately.

The DEH is continuing to investigate for the presence of all affected products in local supermarkets, shops, wholesalers, importers and distributors, both here and the Sister Islands. If any affected products are found, they are removed immediately from supermarket shelves.

Environmental Health Officers are working closely with the food businesses to ensure that affected product is not sold and over 600lb of recalled product has been removed and destroyed.

FDA and DEH recommendations for consumers include:

• Do not eat products that have been recalled and throw them away in a manner that prevents others from eating them.
• To determine if commercially-prepared or manufactured peanut butter/peanut paste-containing products (such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream) are subject to recall, consumers are urged first to visit FDA’s website and check the searchable database of recalled products.
• For information on products containing peanut butter from companies not reporting recalls, consumers may wish to consult the company’s website or call the toll-free number listed on most packaging. Information consumers may receive from the companies has not been verified by the FDA.
• If consumers cannot determine if their peanut butter, peanut butter/peanut paste-containing products or institutionally-served peanut butter contains PCA peanut butter/peanut paste, DEH recommends that they do not consume those products.
• Persons who think they may have become ill from eating peanut butter are advised to consult their health care providers.

For further information concerning local efforts, contact the DEH at 949-6696. For other details, visit the FDA website at www.fda.com.

 

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