Peter Pan in Neverland?

CDC Tracks Salmonella to Batch of Peanut Butter

I scanned and then quickly deleted the e-mail that a friend sent me about peanut butters being recalled for possible Salmonella bacteria, thinking she was overreacting to what was probably a hoax. But when I went downstairs to put milk in my coffee, I couldn’t help glancing at our jar of Peter Pan peanut butter in the refrigerator. There couldn’t be any Salmonella bacteria in it, could there? We had eaten 3/4 of the jar.

Then I listened to NPR’s Morning Edition in the car on my way to work, “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked peanut butter to a salmonella outbreak that’s sickened almost 300 people since August. No one has died — but dozens of people have been hospitalized … investigators narrowed the outbreak to jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brands of peanut butter made at a processing facility in Georgia. The plant is owned by ConAgra foods, which has now recalled all jars of peanut butter that are labeled with a product code number that begins with 2111.” Read entire story.

What was so surprising to me is that I don’t associate Salmonella with peanut butter. Rather I think of cases like the healthy five-month-old girl who died suddenly after contacting a pet iguana infected with Salmonella or people becoming ill after eating raw eggs. Salmonella in peanut butter sounds too much like an urban legend. Tainted canned goods, poultry, meats, raw eggs, and unprocessed milk, those foods bring the deadly bacteria to mind. Plus, peanuts are roasted in the process of making peanut butter, which would normally kill bacteria. However in the ConAgra plant, it seems some Salmonella cells survived. And it doesn’t take much to cause sickness — one cell of Salmonella could make someone ill. In this new outbreak, it’s unclear whether the peanuts were tainted. Another possibility is that the Salmonella came through cross-contamination in the plant or dirty containers. The FDA has just begun its investigation.

Consumers can get a refund by sending lids and their names and addresses to ConAgra Foods. The address is in the article, “Massive amounts of peanut butter suspect; salmonella in 39 states.”


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