Jan. 27, 2009 -- The FDA today encouraged consumers to keep checking the list of peanut butter product recalls related to the ongoing salmonella outbreak because that list is likely to keep growing.
"We expect the list of recalled product to continue to expand," Stephen Sundlof, DVM, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said today at a joint FDA-CDC news conference.
As of Jan. 25, the CDC had reports of at least 501 people in 43 states and one person in Canada sickened by the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, and eight deaths that may be linked to the outbreak.
The latest case reported to the CDC began on Jan. 9, and the outbreak is ongoing, though the number of new cases has "decreased modestly," Robert Tauxe, MD, MPH, deputy director of the CDC's Division of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, said at the news conference.
The FDA has traced the source of the outbreak to a Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) facility in Blakely, Ga. The FDA has finished investigating that facility and found deficiencies in the facility's good manufacturing practices.
Those problems included about 12 incidents during 2007 and 2008 in which the PCA's internal testing detected salmonella and released the products after retesting, sometimes done by a second lab, according to Michael Rogers, director of field investigations in the FDA's Office of Regional Operations.
Besides the Salmonella Typhimurium strain that has caused all of the reported illnesses, health officials have found three other salmonella strains tied to PCA products. One of those strains was found in an unopened tub of peanut butter; the other two were found in cracks in the floor of the PCA's Blakely plant.
The PCA, in a statement released to the media, says the company "has cooperated fully with FDA from day one during the course of this investigation. We have shared with them every record that they have asked for that is in our possession and we will continue to do so."
Peanut Butter Recalls
Nearly 400 products have been recalled, according to the FDA's web site, which includes a searchable list of the recalled products.
Recent peanut butter recalls include:
- Trader Joe's: 7-ounce packages of sliced green apples with all-natural peanut butter and Peanut Butter Chew Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars, Nutty Chocolate Chewy Coated & Drizzled Granola Bars, and Sutter's Formula Cookies
- Kellogg Company: All sizes of ShopRite Peanut Butter on Toasty Crackers and ShopRite Peanut Butter and Cheese Cracker Snacks
- Falcon Trading Company/SunRidge Farms: Certain cases of Naturally Preferred Honey Nut Nuggets, SunRidge Tropical Golden Nuggets, SunRidge Chocolate Energy Bars, and SunRidge Energy Nuggets
- Supreme Protein: Certain lots of Supreme Protein brand Peanut Butter Crunch Bars, Supreme Protein brand Caramel Nut Bars, and Supreme Protein brand Caramel Nut (Energy) Bars
The PCA's products aren't sold directly to stores, but they were distributed to a wide range of companies for use in products or for further distribution. The FDA and other health officials have visited nearly 1,000 firms that purchased products from the PCA, according to Sundlof.
You won't find "PCA" or "Peanut Corporation of America" on product labels, Sundlof notes. If a peanut butter product isn't on the FDA's list of recalled products, "consumers may wish to look at the company's web site or call the toll-free number listed on most packaging" to check on its status, says Sundlof. He cautions that the FDA hasn't verified any information that consumers may get directly from companies about peanut butter safety.
"If consumers are in doubt about the safety of their products, they should not eat them until the scope of the recall is clear," says Sundlof.