Suspected pathogens spark peanut butter, hazelnut recalls

Mar 7, 2011 (CIDRAP News) – The maker of Skippy peanut butter on Mar 4 recalled two types of its reduced-fat products distributed in 16 states after routine tests suggested they may contain Salmonella, the same day a California company recalled in-shell hazelnuts as part of an Escherichia coli illness investigation.

Unilever, Skippy's parent company, said the recall applies only to certain lots of its Reduced Fat Creamy Peanut Butter Spread and its Reduced Fat Super Chunk Peanut Butter Spread, according to a notice issued by the company in conjunction with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). No illnesses have been reported.

The Skippy products subject to the recall were distributed mainly to retail outlets in the Midwest and northeastern states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin. They have "best if used by" dates that range from May 16, 2012, through May 21, 2012, stamped on the jar lids and the UPC codes 048001006812 and 048001006782.

Testing revealed that the finished products may contain Salmonella, the company said.

In 2009 a national Salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter and peanut-containing products made by Peanut Corporation of America sickened at least 714 people in 46 states and may have played a role in 9 deaths. Another Salmonella outbreak, linked to Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter in 2007, sickened 425 people in 44 states.

In other developments, DeFranco and Sons, based in Los Angles, on Mar 4 recalled its bulk and consumer-packaged in-shell hazelnut products after investigations into seven illnesses in three states—Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin—linked them to E coli O157:H7 infections.

The company said in a statement that so far the pathogen hasn't been detected in its products, but it was recalling the products out of an abundance of caution. It said it received the in-shell nuts from suppliers and growers and distributed them nationwide and to Canada. The nuts subject to the recall were distributed in 2010 between Nov 2 and Dec 22.

Recalled products include Sunripe hazelnut and mixed-nut packages (1-, 2-, and 4-pound sizes), 4-pound mixednuts sold as Seasons Greetings gift packs, Sunripe imperial and supreme 50-pound bulk mixed nuts, and George Packing 50-pound bulk hazelnuts. The company said the bulk nuts could have been repacked or sold in bulk containers to consumers.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Mar 5 that it was collaborating with officials in California and the three states that have reported E coli O157:H7 cases, which share the same DNA fingerprint. It said local, state, and federal agencies have linked the outbreak to eating in-shell hazelnuts that were mostly purchased from bulk bins at grocery stores. The trace-back investigation found that DeFranco and Sons was the common distributor for the hazelnuts consumed by the sick patients.

Of the seven sick patients, most were men. Three were hospitalized, the CDC said. So far none had hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney condition that can result from E coli O157:H7 infections. No deaths have been reported.

See also:

Mar 4 FDA peanut butter recall notice

Mar 4 FDA hazelnut recall notice

Mar 4 CDC outbreak notice

Mar 4 CIDRAP News Scan

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