Salmonella outbreak prompts another peanut butter recall

Jan 14, 2009 (CIDRAP News) – The manufacturer of peanut butter that has been implicated in a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections announced a recall yesterday of all of its product made since Jul 1, 2008.

Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), based in Lynchburg, Va., announced the recall of 21 lots of peanut butter made in a company plant in Blakely, Ga. All of the product was sold to institutions and food service businesses, with none going to consumers through retail stores, the company said in a news release posted on the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Web site.

The peanut butter was distributed in 17 states, George Clarke, a PCA spokesman in Washington, DC, told CIDRAP News today. The list of states and total amount of peanut butter covered by the recall were not immediately available.

Minnesota investigators announced Jan 12 that they had found the outbreak strain of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium in an open 5-pound container of King Nut peanut butter from a nursing home associated with one of the outbreak cases. King Nut Cos., based in Solon, Ohio, a distributor of peanut butter made by PCA, announced its own recall on Jan 10. PCA peanut butter is also sold under the name Parnell's Pride.

As of Jan 12, the outbreak involved 410 salmonellosis cases in 43 states, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak might have contributed to three deaths, and 18% of patients with available information were hospitalized, the agency said.

Minnesota, one of the states hit hardest by the outbreak, now has 33 cases, up from 30 reported last week, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) reported today. Twelve of the patients were in nursing homes, and 13 were hospitalized, said MDH spokesman Doug Schultz.

In addition, a second Minnesota case-patient has died, Schultz reported today. He said the patient, a male nursing home resident in his 70s, had numerous underlying health problems, so the extent of Salmonella's contribution to his death is unknown. Officials had said the same of the earlier death, that of a woman in her 70s.

Although PCA said none of the recalled peanut butter was destined for retail stores, a Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) spokesman told CIDRAP News today that FDA investigators were looking into whether PCA peanut butter could have been used in other products.

"I know that the FDA is in the facility in Blakely, Ga., and they're looking at peanut butter that might've gone from that facility that might be used in other products," said Ben Miller of the MDA. "What those products are I don't know. That’s always a possibility when you're dealing with a product like that."

Miller said the PCA press release referred to peanut butter that the company "probably had direct control over," but if some of the product went to another manufacturer or distributor, the company wouldn't have controlled how it was used.

Clarke, the PCA spokesman, said he had no immediate information on whether any of the company's customers could have formulated the peanut butter into other products.

In other developments, King Nut Cos. said in a Jan 12 statement that King Nut peanut butter couldn't have caused all the Salmonella cases because it is not distributed nationwide.

"We only distribute in seven states and therefore King Nut peanut butter could not possibly be the source of a nationwide outbreak of Salmonella," the company said. It said it sells to food service companies only in Ohio, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, Arizona, Idaho, and New Hampshire.

See also:

PCA recall news release on FDA site
http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ArchiveRecalls/2009/ucm128827.htm

King Nut Cos. news releases
http://www.kingnut.com/site.cfm/news.cfm

CDC outbreak update
http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/typhimurium/

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