Update on FDA’s Investigation of Salmonella outbreak in US

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting a very active and dynamic investigation into the source of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak.

At this time, the FDA has traced one likely source of Salmonella Typhimurium contamination to a plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which manufactures both peanut butter that is institutionally served in such settings as long-term care facilities and cafeterias, and peanut paste-a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts-that is distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream.

The FDA has notified PCA that product samples originating from its Blakely, Ga., processing plant have been tested and found positive for Salmonella by laboratories in the states of Minnesota, Georgia and Connecticut. The state of Minnesota reported to FDA that its samples of King Nut peanut butter are a genetic match to the strain of Salmonella that has caused illnesses in the state and around the country. King Nut is a distributor of PCA product.

As a result of these updated test results, on January 16, PCA expanded its voluntary recall to include all peanut butter produced on or after August 8, 2008, and all peanut paste produced on or after September 26, 2008, in its Blakely, Ga., plant because of potential Salmonella contamination. The product being recalled is sold by PCA in bulk packaging in containers ranging in size from five to 1700 pounds. The peanut paste is sold in sizes ranging from 35-pound containers to product sold by the tanker container. These products are not sold directly to consumers. PCA has stopped all production at its Blakely, Ga., plant as the FDA continues its investigation into the source of the Salmonella contamination.

Based on this information, and on the current state of the investigation, the FDA recommends that consumers avoid eating products that have been recalled and discard them.

Because identification of products subject to recall is continuing, the FDA urges consumers to postpone eating peanut butter-containing products until further information becomes available about which products may be affected. Efforts to specifically identify those products are ongoing.

At this time, there is no indication that any national name brand jars of peanut butter sold in retail stores are linked to the PCA recall. As the investigation continues over the weekend, and into next week, the FDA will be able to update the advice based on new sampling and distribution information.

The FDA is working closely with members of the food industry to narrow this advice and to publish a detailed list of implicated products as soon as possible. The FDA is encouraging manufacturers to help inform consumers about whether their products could have contained commercially prepared peanut butter or peanut paste from PCA. Also, if manufacturers know their products do not contain ingredients from PCA, they may wish to inform consumers of that fact. Retailers should stop selling products which have been recalled.

The FDA will closely monitor these events by continuing to work with the firms on the details of their actions, conduct follow-up audits and inspections, monitor the progress of the firms’ actions, and notify our foreign regulatory counterparts of products that may have been distributed internationally.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration, USA

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