Your peanut butter may contain Salmonella bacteria

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Oct 1 2012 - 3:09pm
Salmonella Bredeney, Salmonella enterocolitis, peanut butter, food poisoning

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that a multistate recall is underway for peanut products manufactured by Sunland Inc., which sells its nuts and nut butters to large groceries and other food distributors around the nation. The company recalled products under multiple brand names after illnesses caused by Salmonella Bredeney were linked to Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt, one of the brands manufactured by Sunland.

To date, 30 infections have been reported in individuals from 19 states.

The infection rate by state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (2), Connecticut (3), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (1), Texas (4), Virginia (1), and Washington (2). Of the 30 cases, four hospitalizations have occurred. Fortunately, no deaths have been reported. The source was determined by collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies. The recall includes nut products from Whole Foods Market, Target, Fresh & Easy, Giant Food, Harry and David, Stop & Shop Supermarket Company and several others.

Because of the possible contamination, on September 24, 2012, Sunland, Inc. voluntarily recalled its peanut butter and other products containing nuts and seeds. Based on available information, the CDC recommends that consumers do not eat recalled peanut butter and other products containing nuts and seeds; furthermore, the agency recommends that any remaining jars of the product in the home should be disposed of or returned to the place of purchase. It notes that this policy is of special importance for children under the age of 5 years, older adults, and individuals with a compromised immune systems. The CDC notes that investigations are ongoing to determine if any other foods are also a source in this outbreak; it will update the public on the progress of this investigation as information becomes available.

Salmonella causes enterocolitis, which is an infection in the lining of the small intestine. It occurs when an individual swallows food or water that is contaminated with the salmonella bacteria. Any food can become contaminated if food preparation conditions and equipment are unsanitary. Approximately 40,000 people develop salmonella infection in the United States each year. Most patients are younger than 20. The highest rate occurs from July through October. Salmonella enterocolitis is one of the most common types of food poisoning.

You are more likely to get this type of infection if you have:

  • Eaten improperly prepared or stored food (especially undercooked turkey or chicken, unrefrigerated turkey dressing, undercooked eggs)
  • Family members with recent salmonella infection
  • Had a recent family illness with gastroenteritis
  • Been in an institution
  • Eaten chicken recently
  • A pet iguana or other lizards, turtles, or snakes (reptiles are carriers of salmonella)
  • A weakened immune system

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The time between infection and symptom development is 8 - 48 hours. Symptoms include:

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