FDA to Consumers: Stop Eating Products Containing Peanut Butter

The FDA has issued a strong warning to consumers to stop eating all products that contain peanut butter (other than peanut butter in the jar) until the agency can figure out what is causing yet another salmonella outbreak.
"We urge consumers to postpone eating any products that may contain peanut butter until additional information becomes available," said Stephen Sundlof, head of the Food and Drug Administration's food safety center. But most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, Sundlof said.

"As of now, there is no indication that the major national name-brand jars of peanut butter sold in retails stores are linked to the recall," Sundlof told reporters in a conference call. Officials are focusing on peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by Peanut Corp. of America. Its peanut butter is not sold directly to consumers but distributed to institutions and food companies. But the peanut paste, made from roasted peanuts, is an ingredient in cookies, cakes and other products that people buy in the supermarket.

"This is an excellent illustration of an ingredient-driven outbreak," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, who oversees foodborne illness investigations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So far, more than 470 people have gotten sick in 43 states, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized. At least six deaths are being blamed on the outbreak. Salmonella is a bacteria and the most common source of food poisoning in the U.S., causing diarrhea, cramping and fever.
That means no Reese's Peanut Butter cups, no Reese's Pieces, and no peanut butter cookies or crackers. And the agency won't positively say peanut butter in a jar is totally safe, just that there's no indication yet that it might not be safe. We're not going near peanut butter in any form until they figure this one out.

Posted on January 17, 2009

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