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Buzzsaw
02-15-2007, 06:45 PM
Updated: 1 hour, 13 minutes ago
ATLANTA - Who ate the peanut butter health officials say should be thrown out in light of a salmonella outbreak? An easier question might be, who didn’t?

More than nine months of production from one of the nation’s largest producers of peanut butter is suspect, now that federal officials have linked nearly 300 cases of salmonella in 39 states to Peter Pan peanut butter and certain batches of Wal-Mart’s Great Value house brand. The manufacturer, ConAgra Foods Inc., has recalled the spreads.

The cause of the first U.S. salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter was still being investigated. But because peanuts are usually heated to high, germ-killing temperatures during the manufacturing process, government and industry officials said Thursday the contamination may have been caused by dirty jars or equipment at the plant of the manufacturer, ConAgra Foods Inc.

“We think we have very strong evidence that this was the brand of peanut butter. Now it goes to the next step of going to the place where the peanut butter was made and focusing in on the testing,” said Dr. Mike Lynch, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

‘A lot of jars of peanut butter’
An estimated 974 million pounds of peanut butter are sold each year in the U.S., and peanut butter and jelly is the most popular sandwich among children. Peter Pan is one of the nation’s top three brands, though well behind market leader Jif.

Another measure of the school-lunch staple’s popularity was ConAgra’s hotline, so swamped after the recall was announced Wednesday that many people got a busy signal.

Shoppers across the country were warned to throw out jars with a product code on the lid beginning with “2111,” which denotes the plant where it was made.

The suspect peanut butter was produced by ConAgra at its only peanut butter plant, in Sylvester, Ga., federal investigators said.

ConAgra said it is not clear how many jars are affected by the recall. But the plant is the sole producer of the nationally distributed Peter Pan brand, and the recall covers all peanut butter — smooth and chunky alike — produced by the plant from May 2006 until now. That also includes some jars of Wal-Mart’s Great Value brand, which other manufacturers also produce.

“We’re talking a lot of jars of peanut butter,” said Dr. David Acheson, chief medical officer of the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

FDA inspectors visited the now shut-down plant Wednesday and Thursday to try to pinpoint where the contamination could have happened. The FDA last inspected the plant in 2005.

Outbreak began six months ago
Testing was also being done on at least some of the salmonella victims’ peanut butter jars, but investigators said some may already have been discarded. The first people sickened fell ill in August.

The highest number of cases were reported in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri. About 20 percent of all the ill were hospitalized, and there were no deaths, the CDC said.

About 85 percent of the infected people said they ate peanut butter, and about a quarter of them ate it at least once a day, the CDC’s Lynch said. It was the only food that most of the patients had all recently eaten.

“We think there’s very strong evidence that it was this brand of peanut butter,” Lynch said.

School officials in Houston confiscated students’ sandwiches from home and replaced them with those made at schools. And in Georgia, a lawmaker representing one of the nation’s biggest peanut-producing areas warned colleagues to throw out jars of peanut butter that he recently handed out.

Salmonella sickens about 40,000 people a year in the U.S. and kills about 600. It can cause diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain and vomiting.

But most cases of salmonella poisoning are caused by undercooked eggs and chicken. The only known salmonella outbreak in peanut butter — in Australia during the mid-1990s — was blamed on unsanitary plant conditions.

ConAgra spokesman Chris Kircher said the company randomly tests 60 to 80 jars of peanut butter that come off its Sylvester plant’s line each day for salmonella and other germs, and “we’ve had no positive hits on that going back for years.” He said the plant was shut down as a precaution for further investigation.

“We’re trying to understand what else we need to do or should be doing,” Kircher said.

The outbreak was detected by the CDC and state health agencies when they noticed spikes in the cases of people sickened by an unusual type of salmonella, starting in August. Once peanut butter emerged as a link, the CDC notified the FDA.

Heating process kills salmonella
Salmonella commonly originates in the feces of birds and animals, and could be introduced at a multitude of stages in the peanut butter-making process. But many safeguards are in place.

While rodents and birds commonly get into peanut storage bins, germs are killed when raw peanuts are roasted. When making peanut butter, the nuts are again heated — above the salmonella-killing temperature of 165 degrees — as they are ground into a paste and mixed with other ingredients before being squirted into jars and quickly sealed.

“The heating process is sufficient to kill salmonella, should it be present,” said Mike Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety, in the state that produces nearly half of the nation’s peanuts.

Experts say the point in the process where salmonella could be introduced and survive would be as the product cools down, is placed in the jars and then sealed. At most plants, those steps take just minutes.

But “there is quite a lot that happens after that heat step ... before it’s put in jars. So there’s definitely an opportunity for contamination after the roasting,” the FDA’s Acheson said.

Non-ConAgra Great Value peanut butter unaffected
Acheson speculated a small, on-again, off-again source of contamination caused the outbreak, which would explain the relatively small number of illnesses. That “will make finding it in peanut butter difficult. But that’s not going to stop us from looking,” he said.

Other states reporting cases are Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

The strain in this outbreak, Salmonella serotype Tennessee, is comparatively rare, as is salmonella contamination of peanut products, said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

“It’s taken them a long time to identify peanut butter as the cause, but that may be because they had to get over their denial. It’s just not one of the first things you’d suspect,” Smith DeWaal said.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17155561/

I know nearly everybody here loves PB. Just a heads up.

Mr. D
02-15-2007, 07:04 PM
I dont think ConAgra makes any natural PBs do they?

Holto
02-15-2007, 08:05 PM
Nature wins again.

Stumprrp
02-15-2007, 08:24 PM
my boss and co worker were talking about this today, but he buys organic and she just finished her last jar of peter pan, go skippy natural! MMMM.

BostonBull
02-16-2007, 04:03 AM
My wife eats this rubbish. She like the "reduced fat" one that is laden with Trans-Fats. I have told her many times about eating Natty PB, well oday the report came on the news and I went and checked her lot number on the jar we had, sure enough......2111!

Maybe now she'll switch over to Natty.

mikesbytes
02-16-2007, 04:38 AM
Ain't the "reduced fat" ones usually laced with a ton of sugar ?

Stumprrp
02-16-2007, 05:10 AM
im sure it is, taking the fat out of peanut butter is a crime!

skippy natural has some slightly added sugar i think, 2g per 2 tbps or something, nothing to worry about

Mad Martigan
02-16-2007, 06:24 AM
im sure it is, taking the fat out of peanut butter is a crime!

skippy natural has some slightly added sugar i think, 2g per 2 tbps or something, nothing to worry about

Somehow it has the same carb content, but a wee bit more sugar than the Smuckers. WTH is it that Skippy does that makes their PB not quite as good as Smuckers? At first I thought it was the salt, but now I think its the palm oil. It just doesn't taste as good.

piff
02-16-2007, 12:59 PM
Natty peanut butter for the win:D

ddegroff
02-16-2007, 01:17 PM
Interesting story, glad I don't eat that crap!

nejar462
02-16-2007, 01:24 PM
I think the healthiest peanut butter I ever found in a commerical store was Wegman's natural peanut butter. A bit more protein and less calories per servings than the other brands. Lower carb content too I think.

NateOz
02-16-2007, 05:55 PM
Yeah rubbish, can't go past the Natty.

FireRescue
02-17-2007, 03:11 AM
At first I thought it was the salt, but now I think its the palm oil. It just doesn't taste as good.

I agree I think it is the palm oil.

ancom41
02-17-2007, 10:27 AM
I dont think ConAgra makes any natural PBs do they?

True, but we are assumming that most people actually listen to our advice about natty PB.

VikingWarlord
02-17-2007, 11:14 AM
go skippy natural! MMMM.

Hells yeah.

This thread is making me hungry.

sCaRz*Of*PaiN
02-17-2007, 02:56 PM
Salmonella sickens about 40,000 people a year in the U.S. and kills about 600. [...]

But most cases of salmonella poisoning are caused by undercooked eggs and chicken.Yay, raw eggs!

Holto
02-17-2007, 07:01 PM
I can't remember the specifics but ConAgra was exposed for some bad practices in Fast Food Nation. A really good read.

Beast
02-17-2007, 08:00 PM
My dad recently had nausea and vomiting for a few days... sure enough, he had recently eaten 2 PB&J sandwiches using the 2111 peanut butter!

Optimum08
02-17-2007, 08:01 PM
crunchy natty pb for teh w1n!!111oneone

mikesbytes
02-17-2007, 10:52 PM
Afternoon snack today. Raison toast with marg. and PB

Holto
02-18-2007, 12:20 AM
Afternoon snack today. Raison toast with marg. and PB

Switch out the synthetic margarine for butter and even better.

cts122
02-18-2007, 09:20 AM
Somehow it has the same carb content, but a wee bit more sugar than the Smuckers. WTH is it that Skippy does that makes their PB not quite as good as Smuckers? At first I thought it was the salt, but now I think its the palm oil. It just doesn't taste as good.

Is that a joke? smuckers tastes horrible compared to skippy, too dry and bland

minime_moomey
02-18-2007, 10:22 AM
LOL. I went through two jars of the stuff before I heard what was going on...Still Salmonella free...Gonna take more that a little outbreak to deter me from my PB munches!!!!!!!!

drwost
02-20-2007, 07:04 AM
I am so happy i found a health food store that grinds the peanuts right there for you. 3 bucks for half a pound of pure mushed peanuts!

bill
02-20-2007, 08:13 AM
luckily we had not gotten sick from this stuff, we had 2111

sweitz
02-22-2007, 09:12 AM
im sure it is, taking the fat out of peanut butter is a crime!

skippy natural has some slightly added sugar i think, 2g per 2 tbps or something, nothing to worry about

yea but out of all the kinds i tried i think it tastes the best