Peanut butter recalled after multistate Salmonella outbreak

Sep 24, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – A New Mexico company has recalled multiple brands of peanut butter and almond butter after federal officials linked one of its products to a 29-case, 18-state outbreak of salmonellosis.

Of the 29 patients infected with the outbreak Salmonella Bredeney strain, 4 have been hospitalized but no one has died, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Sep 22. Illness onset dates range from Jun 11 to Sep 2, with all but one after Jul 6.

The agency said trace-back investigations by federal, state, and local health officials indicate that Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter "is a likely source of this outbreak."

In response, Trader Joe's on Sep 22 announced a voluntary recall of this product, which is sold in 16-ounce plastic jars. It added in a notice on its Web site today that it is also recalling Valencia Peanut Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds and Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds, both of which are also sold in 16-ounce jars.

The products are sold in Trader Joe's grocery stores across the country and via the Internet. The company has removed the product from its shelves, it said in a press release.

The maker of the Trader Joe's products in turn announced its own recall today. Sunland Inc. of Portales, N.M., said in a press release that it is recalling peanut butter and almond butter made between May 1 and today and distributed nationally to "numerous" supermarket chains.

In addition to Trader Joe's and Sunland, brands involved include Archer Farms; Fresh & Easy; Heinen's; Naturally More; Serious Food, Silly Prices; and Sprouts. Jars include a best-if-used-by date of May 1, 2013, to Sep 24, 2013. The company said customers should discard the products or return them to the store for a full refund.

Case-patients in the outbreak range in age from less than 1 to 77 years old, with a median age of 7 and with 76% being children, the CDC said. Sixty-four percent of the patients are male.

The CDC said that all 14 patients interviewed reported buying food at Trader Joe's, and 12 (86%) reported eating the company's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter in the week before falling ill. "Investigations are ongoing to determine if any other foods sold primarily at Trader Joe's grocery stores are also a source in this outbreak," the agency said.

Investigators are using DNA fingerprints of Salmonella obtained using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) on samples taken through diagnostic testing and comparing them with patterns found in PulseNet, the country's subtyping network of surveillance labs.

"This PFGE pattern has rarely been seen before in PulseNet," the CDC said, adding that it typically causes from five to eight illnesses a year.

Affected states are Washington, California, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri, Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Maryland.

A 2008-09 Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to peanut products from the Peanut Corp. of America reached 714 cases (including 9 deaths), and an outbreak caused by Salmonella Tennessee in ConAgra peanut butter in 2006-07 affected 715 people.

See also:

Sep 22 CDC announcement

Sep 22 Trader Joe's recall notice

Sep 24 Trader Joe's notice to customers

Sep 24 Sunland recall notice

Sep 22 FDA news release

Aug 18, 2011, CIDRAP News item on 2008-09 outbreak

Aug 2, 2011, CIDRAP News item on 2006-07 outbreak

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