According to the Food and Drug Administration, 485 people in 43 states and Canada have been sickened by an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium, which has been traced to products containing contaminated peanut butter originating from the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). Authorities also believe the contaminated peanut butter has lead to about 100 hospitalizations and may be responsible for six deaths.
The FDA notified PCA on Monday that samples of peanut butter originating from the company’s facility in Blakely, Georgia, tested positive for the salmonella bacteria. The peanut butter was distributed under the King Nut brand name and sold wholesale to food manufacturers and institutions such as long-term care facilities and cafeterias.
PCA sells its peanut butter in containers ranging from 5 to 1,700 pounds. Its peanut butter paste is sold in bulk containers ranging from 35 pounds to tanker loads.
Jarred peanut butter is safe to eat, the FDA says, but consumers should avoid consuming foods containing peanut butter and peanut butter paste. PCA does not sell its peanut butter directly to consumers in jar form. The FDA is maintaining a continually updated list of all products affected by the recall.
Stores throughout the U.S. and around the world continue to pull products containing peanut butter off the shelves. While not all products containing peanut butter may be affected, the FDA suggests that it is best to avoid buying and eating them altogether as a precautionary measure until more is known. Affected products were sold between between Aug. 21, 2008, and Jan. 19, 2009.
At this time, tests have confirmed the presence of the salmonella bacteria found in a package of Austin Quality Foods Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter manufactured by Kellogg of Battle Creek, Michigan. The FDA does not yet know which other specific products contain the contaminated peanut butter.
Products known to be safe, according to their manufacturers, include those from ConAgra, the maker of Peter Pan brand peanut butter, J.M. Smucker, Russell Stover Candies, Inc., and ABC Bakers-Interbake Foods, the maker of Girl Scout cookies. None of the four companies buy peanut butter from PCA.