Peanut Butter And Jelly Sandwiches - No Thanks

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Peanut butter jelly
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Peanut butter recalls may mean the end of our beloved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – at least for a while. Something about peanut butter and salmonella is not appealing - about 125 peanut butter products have been implicated in the salmonella outbreak so far.

We know there have been no reports of salmonella in peanut butter jars, but recommendations from Paul G. Auwaerter, MD, Clinical Director, Division of Infectious Diseases, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says it is best to avoid peanut butter and peanut butter flavored products altogether.

The list of peanut butter recalls is growing. According to Dr. Auwaerter, anyone concerned about eating contaminated peanut butter should contact the FDA with his or her concerns.

Elders and anyone with suppressed immune systems are especially at risk from salmonella infection. Diarrhea associated with salmonella can lead to dehydration and the need for intravenous fluids and monitoring in the hospital for complications.

Symptoms of salmonella can take twelve hours or up to five days to appear. Symptoms include abdominal pain and diarrhea. As salmonella progresses, life-threatening sepsis can occur, especially for those at high risk, such as anyone with AIDS or undergoing chemotherapy. Salmonella can penetrate cells and get into the bloodstream. Other symptoms of salmonella poisoning include nausea, and fever.

There are approximately 2500 types of salmonella bacteria. The first cases of salmonella were identified in 1885, isolated from pigs. Salmonella can infect humans, animals and birds.

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Mild cases of salmonella do not require antibiotics. Dr. Auwaerter explains it is "best to have the organism expelled by the body without antibiotics". If there are questions about the cause of abdominal pain or diarrhea,or if you are at risk for complications, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

Even pets who eat peanut butter products are at risk says Dr. Auwaerter, a special note of caution for those who give peanut butter treats as a reward to their dogs.

The CDC has a great podcast for children, explaining how salmonella "germs' got into peanut butter. The podcast includes a caution about hand washing, complete with a demonstration for children, as an extra measure to keep them safe from peanut butter contaminated with salmonella. Salmonella on your child's hand could be transmitted from hand to mouth. Cleanliness and avoidance of contaminated foods are the best ways to limit the spread of salmonella.

Hand washing is one of the most powerful ways to prevent the spread of any infection. You can download the salmonella podcast for kids here.

Visit the CDC website for an update of contaminated peanut butter products. Contact the FDA at 800-CDCINFO with questions, or to report symptoms of possible salmonella poisoning.

Throw away your peanut butter products, and forget about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for now.

External sources:
Medscape: Peanut Butter and Salmonella: Not the Perfect Combination
Salmonella

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