Nationwide Salmonella Outbreak – An investigation of peanut butter and its link to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella has expanded with the Kellogg Co. (K) voluntarily recalling sixteen of its products and federal officials confirming salmonella contamination at a facility in Georgia that ships peanut products to 85 different food companies.
Earlier this week Kellogg asked retailers to remove some of its Keebler crackers from store shelves as a precaution. However, in a statement released late Friday, the company announced that it was voluntarily recalling the crackers and other products in light of the problems in Georgia.
The salmonella outbreak has made hundreds of people in 43 states sick and killed at least six.
Kellogg’s president and CEO, David Mackay said “the actions we are taking today are in keeping with our more than 100-year commitment to providing consumers with safe, high-quality products. We apologize for this unfortunate situation.”
Included in the recall are Austin and Keebler branded Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, as well as some snack-size packs of Famous Amos Peanut Butter Cookies and Keebler Soft Batch Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookies.
Consumers are advised not to eat any of the products in question and to contact a doctor if they have any symptoms. The tainted products should be carefully disposed of to avoid the risk of homeless people finding and eating them.
According to the FDA, new cases are still being reported.
Although some brands have been linked to the outbreak, the FDA says the investigation is ongoing and more products may yet be recalled.
The investigation includes baked goods and other products that contain peanuts and are sold directly to consumers in addition to peanut butter. According to health officials, approximately one-third of the people who got sick had no recollection of eating peanut butter.
”The focus is on peanut butter and a wide array of products that might have peanut butter in them,” said Dr. Robert Tauxe, director of the foodborne illness division at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Officials said they are focusing not only on peanut butter, but also on peanut paste produced at a Peanut Corp. of America facility in Blakely, Ga. The inclusion of peanut paste is significant as it can be used in numerous products.
Six deaths have been linked to the outbreak by health officials in Minnesota, Virginia, Idaho and North Carolina. The exact cause of death in each case had not been determined, however, each person had salmonella when they died.
According to the CDC, typhimurium , the bacteria involved in the outbreak, is fairly common and not an unusually dangerous strain. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk though.
Common symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.
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