Peanut Butter May be Tainted

FEBRUARY 15, 2007 - Posted at 8:08 a.m. CST, Updated at 12:58 p.m.

ATLANTA (AP) - A salmonella outbreak has prompted a recall of peanut butter.

The Food & Drug Administration says the outbreak began last summer and was just recently traced to peanut butter made at a single ConAgra plant in Sylvester, Georgia.  The spread being recalled was sold under the Peter Pan and Great Value brands.  The only jars affected have a product code beginning with the number "2111" on the lid.

It's believed to be the first salmonella outbreak associated with peanut butter in U.S. history.

Federal health officials say, since August, the outbreak has grown slowly to nearly 300 cases in 39 states.  About 20 percent of those infected had to be hospitalized.  All survived.

The largest number of cases were reported in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri.

Authorities still don't know how the salmonella got into the peanut butter.

The FDA states that Great Value peanut butter made by other manufacturers is not affected.

FDA Warns Consumers Not to Eat Certain Jars of Peter Pan Peanut Butter and Great Value Peanut Butter

The FDA has announced this press release:

Product May be Contaminated With Salmonella

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to eat certain jars of Peter Pan peanut butter or Great Value peanut butter due to risk of contamination with Salmonella Tennessee (a bacterium that causes foodborne illness). The affected jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter have a product code located on the lid of the jar that begins with the number "2111." Both the Peter Pan and Great Value brands are manufactured in a single facility in Georgia by ConAgra. Great Value peanut butter made by other manufacturers is not affected.

If consumers have any of this Peter Pan or Great Value brand peanut butter in their home that has been purchased since May 2006, they should discard it.

Symptoms of foodborne illness caused by Salmonella include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In persons with poor underlying health or weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections. Individuals who have recently eaten Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with product code 2111 and have experienced any of these symptoms should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately. Any such illnesses should be reported to state or local health authorities.

FDA's warning is based on a just-completed epidemiological study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the states and local health agencies, which links 288 cases of foodborne illness in 39 states to consumption of varying types of Peter Pan peanut butter. This report was provided to FDA on February 13.

The outbreak appears to be ongoing and the first consumer may have become ill in August 2006. The cause of foodborne illnesses can be difficult to identify. As a result of extensive epidemiological testing and recent case control studies, CDC was recently able to identify Peter Pan peanut butter as the likely cause of illness. Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with product code 2111 is manufactured in the same plant as Peter Pan peanut butter and, thus, is believed to be at similar risk of contamination.

ConAgra is recalling all Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter beginning with product code 2111 that already was distributed. The company also is destroying all affected products in their possession. The company will cease production until the exact cause of contamination can be identified and eliminated. ConAgra will advise consumers to destroy any Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with product code 2111 in their possession. To assist in this endeavor, FDA has sent investigators to ConAgra's processing plant in Sylvester, Georgia where the products are made to review records, collect product samples and conduct tests for Salmonella Tennessee.

FDA will provide regular updates as more information becomes available.
Consumers who have questions should contact ConAgra at 866-344-6970.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)