Peter Pan Peanut Butter Recalled

Posted on February 17, 2007

Photo of Peter Pan peanut butterThe FDA has ordered that consumers throw away all Peter Pan peanut butter made since May, 2006, because of potential contamination with salmonella.
More than 290 people from 39 states have become ill in the food poisoning outbreak, and 46 have been hospitalized, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. ConAgra Foods Inc., which makes Peter Pan, said earlier it was checking the source of the contamination, which may have also affected the Great Value label peanut butter it makes for retailer Wal-Mart.

The FDA had said on Wednesday that certain batches of Peter Pan butter may contain salmonella and that all had a product code on the lid of the jar beginning with 2111. The FDA said the suspect Great Value peanut butter also could be identified by the 2111 code. The CDC has identified the strain of bacteria as Salmonella Tennessee, one of many strains of salmonella bacteria. They can cause nausea, diarrhea and other ill effects, but usually the sickness clears up on its own in less than a week.

"Although Great Value peanut butter with the specified product code has not been linked by CDC to the cases of Salmonella Tennessee infection, the product is manufactured in the same plant as Peter Pan peanut butter and, thus, is believed to be at similar risk of contamination," the FDA said in a statement. "Great Value peanut butter made by manufacturers other than ConAgra is not affected." The FDA said it persuaded ConAgra to recall the peanut butter on Wednesday, shortly after the CDC confirmed it was investigating the outbreak.

"FDA laboratory personnel will analyze samples collected from the manufacturing plant," the agency said. The last major outbreak of salmonella food poisoning in the United States was in November and was linked to tomatoes. It made 183 people ill in 22 states and Canada. Every year, approximately 40,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States and about 600 people die of it, according to the CDC. Consumer groups have been complaining about federal food safety efforts, saying the various agencies involved, including FDA, CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, do not work together well enough.

"If we cannot protect the nation's supply of peanut butter, one must ask how prepared we are for a terrorist attack on our nation's food supply," Michigan Democratic Rep. Bart Stupak said on Friday. "As Chairman of the House Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, I have already been working with Commerce Committee Chairman (John) Dingell to open an investigation into the adequacy of the FDA's efforts to protect our nation's food supply."
What is the deal lately with all the salmonella and E. coli contamination cases? The United States used to have the safest food supply in the world, but in the past few years there have been case after case of contaminated foods -- from green onions, to spinach to peanut butter, of all things. There has never been a case of contaminated peanut butter in U.S. history -- until now. School children all over the country eat peanut butter every day. This is simply unacceptable. We agree with the consumer groups that want more funding for the FDA to perform its oversight function to keep American food safe and healthy.

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