More companies caught in peanut butter recall

by Keith Nunes
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KANSAS CITY — The list of food companies and retailers caught in the Peanut Butter Corporation of America recall has grown longer as Ready Pac Foods, Inc., Irwindale, Calif., recalled fruit and vegetable snack packs that contain peanut butter sourced from the supplier. In addition, The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, expanded its recall to include the Light version of its Private Selection Peanut Passion Ice Cream, and Cub Foods, Stillwater, Minn., announced it was recalling five peanut butter cookie products.

In addition, the number of companies announcing they are not a part of the recall has grown longer as Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream, Oakland, Calif.; The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa.; Quaker Oats North America, Chicago; Atkins Nutritionals, Inc., Denver; Golden Enterprises, Inc., Birmingham, Ala.; Barbara’s Bakery, Petaluma, Calif.; and Schiff Nutrition, Salt Lake City, Utah, have all issued statements noting they do not source product from the P.C.A.

Companies that are not a part of the recall have had to take the unusual step of announcing their situation after the Food and Drug Administration warned consumers on Jan. 18, to "postpone eating commercially-prepared or manufactured peanut butter-containing products and institutionally-served peanut butter until further information becomes available about which products may be affected." Despite changing its position on Jan. 19 and encouraging consumers to search a database of recalled products on the F.D.A. web site, the damage was done as media outlets published new stories stating consumers should avoid products containing peanut butter.

A lawsuit also was filed in the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Georgia in Albany, Ga., on Jan. 20 against the P.C.A. The complaint was filed on behalf of Vermont residents Gabrielle and Daryl Meunier, whose son was sickened in the outbreak, by the law firm Marler Clark and Patrick Flynn of Flynn, Peeler & Phillips of Albany.

"We learned a lot in the last peanut butter outbreak, and it’s sad that we have to put that knowledge to use," said William Marler, a partner with Marler Clark. "But what we know is that we have to make sure all possibly contaminated product is promptly recalled, and that the responsible companies step up to pay the medical bills of the victims as well as the cost of government investigations. In addition, the public needs to know what safety precautions the Peanut Corporation of America was taking, especially after the 2007 outbreak. Finally, they need to show the public what will be done to prevent the next outbreak."

As of Jan. 19, 485 people in 43 states had been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta.

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