FDA finds Salmonella in crackers amid recall flurry

Jan 19, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The company implicated in the national Salmonella outbreak has recalled more of its peanut products, some distributed beyond US borders, as Kellogg Corp. announced today that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found the pathogen in one package of its peanut butter sandwich crackers.

National peanut butter brands sold through retail stores have not been linked to the Salmonella outbreak, but the FDA has warned consumers to avoid any commercially made products containing peanut butter—such as crackers, cookies, and ice cream—and any peanut butter served in institutions such as schools and nursing homes until investigators determine more about the scope of the contamination.

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), based in Lynchburg, Va., said yesterday in a press release that it is expanding the recall of peanut butter made at its Blakely, Ga., facility and is voluntarily recalling peanut paste made at the same plant. The company said the peanut butter and peanut paste were distributed to institutions, food services industries, and private-label food companies in 24 states, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan, Korea, and Haiti.

"In addition, affected product was used as an ingredient in other products that may have been distributed in other states," the company said, emphasizing that none of its recalled peanut butter is sold to consumers through retail stores.

The peanut butter and peanut paste involved in the expanded recall was made on or after Jul 1, 2008, at the Blakely, Ga., facility. The company said tests on environmental samples and a small number of unopened containers have yielded Salmonella, though the company did not say if the pathogen matched the national outbreak strain of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium.

The recall affects 200 lots of peanut butter and peanut paste as well as 52 lots of coarse natural paste, according to PCA.

PCA is advising companies to segregate and hold the product and call PCA for further instructions.

Meanwhile, Kellogg Corp. said in a press release today that Salmonella has been found in one package of its Austin peanut butter sandwich crackers, one of the brands the company has already recalled. The company did not indicate if the Salmonella found in the package of crackers matches the national outbreak strain.

On Jan 14 customers and consumers were advised by the company to hold certain cracker brands pending more information from PCA. Two day later Kellogg recalled the products and said it has asked its salespeople and a retrieval company to remove the recalled products from store shelves.

In other developments, more companies recalled products that may contain possibly tainted peanut butter or peanut paste supplied by PCA. The companies include:

  • Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products: Wal-Mart Bakery peanut butter cookies, peanut butter no-bake cookies, and peanut butter fudge no-bake cookies; Lofthouse brand peanut butter cookies, peanut butter no-bake cookies, and peanut butter fudge no-bake cookies; Parco Foods' Chuck's Chunky food service peanut butter cookies; Pastries Plus gourmet cookies; Food Lion Bake Shop peanut butter cookies
  • Meijer: cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers, toasty peanut butter sandwich crackers, peanut butter and jelly ice cream, peanut butter cup ice cream
  • General Mills: Larabar peanut butter cookie flavor snack bars, JamFrakas Blisscrisp peanut butter flavor snack bars

So far the outbreak strain has been connected to 474 illnesses in 43 states, according to a Jan 17 update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak may have played a role in 6 deaths, and 107 case-patients have been hospitalized.

Agriculture officials in Georgia and Connecticut have isolated Salmonella in unopened 5-pound jars of King Nut peanut butter and are awaiting further test results to determine if the pathogen matches the outbreak strain. Earlier this month, public health officials in Minnesota found the outbreak strain in an open container of King Nut peanut butter, a bulk brand that is produced by PCA but is distributed to food service institutions by King Nut Corporation.

See also:

Jan 19 Kellogg press release

Jan 19 General Mills press release

Jan 18 CIDRAP News story "FDA warns not to eat selected peanut butter products"

Jan 19 Meijer press release

Jan 18 Ralcorp Lofthouse press release

Jan 18 Ralcorp Wal-Mart product press release

Jan 18 Ralcorp Food Lion press release

Jan 17 CDC Salmonella outbreak update

Jan 18 FDA outbreak update

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