- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2009

MILWAUKEE (AP) | General Mills Inc. and grocers Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc. have joined the growing list of food companies and retailers pulling items made with peanut butter amid a salmonella outbreak.

The Food and Drug Administration has traced the outbreak to a Georgia plant owned by Peanut Corp. of America, which makes peanut butter and peanut paste and sells it to institutions and food companies. The peanut products have been tied to six deaths and more than 470 illnesses in 43 states.

The government has advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods containing peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination. Peanut butter sold in jars is safe and not affected by the outbreak, officials said.

The FDA has created a searchable list of recalled products and brands on the agency’s Web site (www.fda.gov).

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the bacterium behind the outbreak is common and not an unusually dangerous strain, but the elderly or those with weakened immune systems are more at risk. At least five of the six people who died were elderly. All had salmonella poisoning when they died, though their exact causes of death haven’t been determined.

The salmonella outbreak is the second in two years involving peanut butter. Salmonella is the nation’s leading cause of food poisoning; common symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

Peanut Corp. of America expanded its own recall Sunday to all peanut butter and peanut paste produced since July 1 at its plant in Blakely, Ga. The recalled products were distributed to institutions, food service industries and private-label food companies in 24 states.

“We deeply regret that this product recall has expanded, and our first priority is to protect the health of our customers,” said Stewart Parnell, president of Peanut Corp.

Late Monday, Safeway said some of the products it makes, including Ready Pack Eating Right Kids Apples with Peanut Butter and Orchard Valley Harvest’s Organic Bark Peanut Butter Cookies and Cream, may use peanut butter involved in the recall and asked customers to discard them or return them to the store for a full refund.

Kellogg Co. recalled 16 cracker and cookie products last week. The company said Monday that federal authorities had confirmed that salmonella was found in a package of its peanut butter crackers: Austin Quality Foods Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter, which previously had been recalled.

Other recently recalled items that contain peanut butter:

cMeijer, which operates 181 stores in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky: Meijer brand Cheese and Peanut Butter and Toasty Peanut Butter crackers, and Peanut Butter and Jelly and Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Kroger, the nation’s largest traditional grocery chain: Private Selection Peanut Butter Passion Ice Cream sold in stores named City Market, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, King Soopers, QFC and Smith’s in 11 states, primarily in the West. The company said the ice cream was not sold in its namesake Kroger stores or any other retailers it operates.


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