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January 22, 2009

US: Over 125 products recalled in peanut scare

Over 125 products have been recalled in the US peanut butter salmonella food scare – and US officials have warned that the investigation is getting wider and wider.

Over 125 products have been recalled in the US peanut butter salmonella food scare – and US officials have warned that the investigation is getting wider and wider.

Products ranging from crackers to ice cream have been recalled amid a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 487 people in the US and Canada and has been linked to six deaths.

In a conference call with reporters yesterday (21 January), US food safety officials confirmed that the source of the outbreak was peanut butter and peanut paste made at a facility owned by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) in Blakely, Georgia.

PCA has supplied over 70 companies and the likes of food manufacturers General Mills and Ralcorp Holdings and retailers Kroger and Safeway have recalled products made with ingredients from the firm.

On Monday, Kellogg confirmed that the FDA had found traces of salmonella in a package of Austin Quality Foods Toasty Crackers.

Dr Stephen Sundlof, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the FDA, said the investigation into the outbreak remained “ongoing”.

“We currently have more than 125 recalled products listed on the FDA website and we expect that number to continue to increase as we continue to get new product-specific information,” Dr Sundlof said.

Salmonella contamination has also been found within the PCA plant, which has suspended production. However, the strain found within the facility is not the same strain that has caused the illnesses. That exact strain was found within peanut butter and peanut paste tested in Minnesota and Connecticut but made at the Blakely site.

“We did find it in the plant. It was not the same strain as the outbreak strain but it does indicate that there are problems within the plant because salmonella should not be found there,” Dr Sundlof said.

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