Salmonella outbreak in peanut butter ensnares snack crackers, cookies

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON —A recall of peanut butter linked to a food-borne illness outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium has spread widely as food companies that bought peanut butter paste from the Peanut Corporation of America (P.C.A.) have recalled products that may contain ingredients manufactured at the company’s Blakely, Ga., facility. Last week, the Food and Drug Administration, through tests conducted by the Minnesota and Connecticut departments of health, confirmed that the source of the outbreak is peanut butter and peanut paste produced by P.C.A. at its Blakely processing plant.

The findings by the F.D.A. led to a spate of product recalls over the past week that included some of the industry’s largest companies, including the Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., and General Mills, Inc., Minneapolis. On Jan. 16, Kellogg announced the recall of Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter sandwich crackers as well as some Famous Amos branded products. On Jan. 19, Kellogg confirmed that F.D.A. testing had identified the presence of Salmonella in one package of its Austin branded snacks.

"The food industry upholds certain operating standards, and we are proud that we exceed these standards in our facilities," said David Mackay, president and chief executive officer of Kellogg. "Events of the last week suggest there was a breach in a supplier’s process that is unacceptable to Kellogg, our customers and our consumers."

General Mills is recalling its Larabar Peanut Butter Cookie flavor snack bars and JamFrakas Peanut Butter Blisscrisp flavor snack bars, because the peanut butter in the products was sourced from the P.C.A. General Mills emphasized no illnesses have been reported in connection with the products involved in the recall.

Other food manufacturers recalling products include:

• Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, Inc., Downers Grove, Ill., is recalling Wal-Mart Bakery brand peanut butter cookies and Food Lion Bake Shop peanut butter cookies.

• Clif Bar & Co., Berkeley, Calif., is recalling Clif and Luna branded bars containing peanut butter.

• Nature’s Path Organic Foods, Richmond, B.C., is recalling its Peanut Butter Optimum Energy Bars.

• McKee Foods Corp., Collegedale, Tenn., is recalling Little Debbie Peanut Butter Toasty and Peanut Butter Cheese Sandwich Crackers.

Several retailers also have been caught up in the recall, including:

• The Kroger Co., Cincinnati, is pulling its Private Selection Peanut Butter ice cream from store shelves.

• Safeway, Inc., Pleasanton, Calif., is recalling products manufactured by Ready Pac Produce Inc. and Orchard Valley Harvest.

• H.E.B., San Antonio, is recalling H.E.B. Buddy snack packs.

• Meijer, Grand Rapids, Mich., is recalling two types of its Meijer brand crackers and two types of its private label ice cream.

For an updated list of recalled products, please visit

In addition, the number of companies announcing they are not a part of the recall has grown longer as the J.M. Smucker Co., Orrville, Ohio; Lance, Inc., Charlotte, N.C.; Tasty Baking Co., Philadelphia; The Hershey Co., Hershey, Pa.; Quaker Oats North America, Chicago; and Barbara’s Bakery, Petaluma, Calif., have all issued statements noting they do not source product from the P.C.A. In addition, both bakers of Girl Scout cookies — Virginia-based ABC Bakers and Kentucky-based Little Brownie Bakers — said all peanut butter Girl Scout cookies are safe to eat.

As of Jan. 20, 486 people in 43 states had been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium, according to the C.D.C. In addition, six deaths have been linked to the outbreak.

This article can also be found in the digital edition of Milling and Baking News, January 27, 2008, starting on Page 12. Click here to search that archive.

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