FDA finds Salmonella in ConAgra plant

Mar 1, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Investigators have found Salmonella enterica in samples collected at a Sylvester, Ga., ConAgra plant that made the Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter linked to an illness outbreak involving 370 people in 42 states, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today.

Finding Salmonella at the food processing plant suggests that the contamination occurred before the product reached consumers, the FDA said in a press release. Yesterday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the outbreak strain, S enterica serovar Tennessee, had been identified in nine opened peanut butter jars.

In its investigation, the FDA also discovered that ConAgra sent bulk Peter Pan peanut butter to a plant in Humboldt, Tenn., that used the product to make three peanut butter toppings. They are part of the original Peter Pan recall and are no longer being sold, but the FDA said consumers might still have the products in their homes. They include:

  • Sonic Brand Ready-To-Use Peanut Butter Topping in 6-lb, 10.5-oz cans. Sonic outlets used the product in peanut butter shakes and sundaes.
  • Carvel Peanut Butter Topping in 6-lb, 10-oz cans. The topping was an ingredient in several Carvel ice cream products, including Chocolate Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter Treasure, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Sundae Dasher, and custom products such as peanut butter flavored ice cream in ice cream cakes.
  • J. Hungerford Smith Peanut Butter Dessert Topping in 6-lb, 10-oz cans. The topping is used in retail outlets and restaurants throughout the United States, but is not available to the public for direct purchase.

The FDA also said ConAgra has extended its recall of all Peter Pan brands and Great Value peanut butter with the number 2111 in the product code on the lid to products made since December 2005. The earlier recall only involved products made since May 2006.

The Salmonella outbreak began in August and is ongoing, according to the CDC and FDA, which announced the outbreak and voluntary product recall on Feb 14. S enterica typically causes fever and nonbloody diarrhea that resolves in a week.

Salmonella outbreaks involving peanut butter are rare. Documented episodes include a 1996 Australian outbreak that sickened 15 people and a 1994-95 outbreak in Israel and Wales that was traced to contaminated peanut-butter–coated snacks and affected about 2,200 people, mostly children.

See also:

Mar 1 FDA press release
http://www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2007/NEW01574.html

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