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January 29, 2009

US: Peanut butter recall now takes in peanuts

The peanut butter salmonella outbreak in the US has been widened to all peanut and peanut products produced since the start of 2007 at the Georgia plant at the centre of the scandal.

The peanut butter salmonella outbreak in the US has been widened to all peanut and peanut products produced since the start of 2007 at the Georgia plant at the centre of the scandal.

Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which owns the facility in Blakely, Georgia, yesterday (28 January) extended its recall of products. Previously, the recall covered only peanut butter or peanut paste.

The expanded recall includes all peanuts – dry and oil roasted – granulated peanuts, peanut meal, peanut butter and peanut paste.

To date, the outbreak has sickened 501 people in 43 US states, plus one person in Canada. Eight deaths have also been linked to the outbreak.

PCA insisted it was “not aware” of any complaints or illnesses involving the additional peanut products.

“PCA is acting out of an abundance of caution and with the US Food and Drug Administration’s help to recall all products manufactured in its Georgia facility,” the company said.

PCA said the Blakely plant had stopped producing all peanut products and added that the company is working with food safety officials as the investigation continues.

“We have been devastated by this, and we have been working around the clock with the FDA to ensure any potentially unsafe products are removed from the market immediately,” PCA president Stewart Parnell said.

Over 125 products have been recalled, with goods ranging from crackers to ice cream. Yesterday, Ahold-owned US retailers Giant Food and Stop & Shop recalled their own-label ice cream Sundae Cones.

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

Products from the Blakely plant were also shipped to Canada, Korea, Haiti and Trinidad.

Yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration claimed PCA had found salmonella contamination at the plant on 12 occasions – but had the products retested and shipped out to market.

An FDA report stated ten “observations” of instances when PCA failed to keep equipment clean, store food correctly and maintain the plant.

For its part, PCA said yesterday that it did “not agree with all the observations noted, and there are some inaccuracies”.

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