On Wednesday, February 14, 2007, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned consumers of possible link betweenCon Agra peanut butter (brand names Peter Pan and Great Value) and a salmonella outbreak. Over 300 cases of salmonella have been correlated with peanut butter consumption. As of yet, no deaths have been reports. A nationwide recall has been issued for all jars beginning with the code 2111 on lid. Consumers are advised to discard peanut butter and mail in the jar for reimbursement.
In Sylvester, Georgia, Con Agra workers have been working alongside the FDA to discover the root of this contamination. The plant has not produced any peanut butter since Wednesday, and they will continue to be closed until source is located and any percussions for future contamination are taken. The source of this outbreak is a mystery, as salmonella is generally linked to bird and animal feces (www.cnn.com). The only other reported incidence of salmonella contamination of a peanut butter plant was in Australia back in 1991. This was found to be due to unsanitary working conditions and equipment (www.cnn.com).
While workers are in search of the cause, people are still getting sick. Healthy adults are usually able to fight the illness on their own, while the very young, elderly, or immune-deficient are at greater risk (www.consumeraffairs.com). Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, cramping, diarrhea, and other primarily digestive ailments (www.consumeraffairs.com). If you have consumed possibly tainted peanut butter, and experience these symptoms, contact your doctor for further advice. Those who are at greater risk (children, elderly, immune-compromised), or who are experiencing severe symptoms, should call or visit their emergency room if they cannot reach their doctor.
Two days after the announcement of the recall, the first lawsuit of many expected has been filed. Susanna and Brian Cox of St. Joseph, Mo. filed against Con Agra in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday, February 16th (www.consumerreports.com). Mr. and Mrs. Cox claim that their children experienced gastrointestinal problems after consuming Con Agra peanut butter (www.consumerreports.com). Many other lawsuits are expected to follow.
As Con Agra and FDA officials continue to hunt for the source of contamination, consumers are taking note. Many are simply throwing affected peanut butter away, claiming it is not worth the trouble to send it in to the company. Whatever consumers do with peanut butter, it is hoped that that aggressive recall will prevent any further illnesses from occurring.