Mon, Jan 19, 2009 - Page 1 News List

US FDA warns on peanut butter amid salmonella scare


US federal health authorities on Saturday urged consumers to avoid cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods that contain peanut butter until authorities know more about a deadly outbreak of salmonella contamination.

Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, said Stephen Sundlof, head of the Food and Drug Administration’s food safety center.

“As of now, there is no indication that the major national name-brand jars of peanut butter sold in retails stores are linked to the recall,” Sundlof told reporters in a conference call.

Officials are focusing on peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at a Blakely, Georgia, facility owned by Peanut Corp of America. Its peanut butter is not sold directly to consumers but distributed to institutions and food companies. But the peanut paste, made from roasted peanuts, is an ingredient in cookies, cakes and other products that people buy in supermarkets.

“This is an excellent illustration of an ingredient-driven outbreak,” said Robert Tauxe, who oversees foodborne illness investigations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, more than 470 people have gotten sick in 43 states and at least 90 have been hospitalized. Six deaths are being blamed on the outbreak.

The Kellogg Co, which listed Peanut Corp as one of its suppliers, has recalled 16 products. The Battle Creek, Michigan, company said it was voluntarily recalling the crackers and other products.

“The actions we are taking today are in keeping with our more than 100-year commitment to providing consumers with safe, high-quality products,” David Mackay, Kellogg’s president and chief executive, said in a statement late on Friday.

The recall includes Austin and Keebler branded Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers and some snack-size packs of Famous Amos Peanut Butter Cookies and Keebler Soft Batch Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookies.

Peanut Corp has recalled all peanut butter produced at the Georgia plant since Aug. 8 and all peanut paste produced since Sept. 26.

It was not immediately known whether any of Peanut Corp’s products were marketed in other countries.

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