A large multistate outbreak of salmonella, which has been linked to ConAgra peanut butter products, has affected 290 people in 39 states, a representative for the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) told just-food today (16 February).

CDC said that consumption of ConAgra's Peter Pan peanut butter brand is statistically linked to contraction of the food borne illness. While the CDC did not find a statistical connection between Great Value peanut butter and the disease, the agency noted that both products are made by ConAgra at the same processing plant in Georgia, and therefore concluded that Great Value peanut butter is at a similar risk of contamination.

"This is a very slow moving outbreak," Lola Russell told just-food. "ConAgra is the only company to have been linked to the outbreak. It's Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter products are subject to recall."

As of 15 February 290 cases of salmonella were reported to the CDC. Of the 185 patients for whom clinical information was available, 44 (24%) were hospitalised. There have been no reports of deaths. Onset dates, which are known for 171 patients, ranged from 1 August, 2006 to 30 January, 2007.

"Officials and the company are cooperating to determine how the peanut butter could have become infected," Russell noted.