Maker Recalls Peanut Butter As 2 More Die of Salmonella

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By Sue Lindsey
Associated Press
Thursday, January 15, 2009

ROANOKE, Jan. 14 -- A peanut butter maker that sells bulk supplies to institutions issued a nationwide recall as officials on Wednesday reported two more deaths associated with a salmonella outbreak.

Lynchburg-based Peanut Corp. of America issued the recall late Tuesday for 21 lots of peanut butter made since July 1 at its plant in Blakely, Ga., because of possible salmonella contamination. The company supplies peanut paste to Kellogg Co., which on Wednesday asked stores nationwide to pull peanut butter crackers sold under the Austin and Keebler brands.

Kellogg, based in Battle Creek, Mich., said it hasn't found problems or received complaints about those products.

"We are taking these voluntary actions out of an abundance of caution," Kellogg chief executive David Mackay said.

The national salmonella outbreak has sickened more than 430 people in 43 states. Health officials in Minnesota and Idaho reported Wednesday that one death in each state had been linked to the outbreak. Another death in Minnesota and two in Virginia were confirmed Tuesday.

All five were adults who had salmonella when they died, though their causes of death haven't been determined. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the salmonella outbreak may have contributed.

Peanut Corp. of America said none of the recalled peanut butter is sold through retail stores. Its peanut butter is made for distribution to institutions, food service industries and private label food companies. The company said the peanut butter is sold under the brand name Parnell's Pride and by the King Nut Co. as King Nut.

However, the products being pulled from shelves by Kellogg are sold directly to consumers. They include Austin and Keebler toasted peanut butter sandwich crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwich crackers, cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers, and peanut butter-chocolate sandwich crackers. Customers are asked to not eat the products, until an investigation is complete.

FDA compliance officer Sandra Williams said Kellogg's move is known as a stop-sale order and isn't as serious as a recall.

The Peanut Corp. recall was issued after an open container of King Nut peanut butter in a long-term care facility in Minnesota was found to contain salmonella. Health officials had recommended that nursing homes, hospitals, schools, universities and restaurants discard containers of peanut butter linked to the outbreak.

"We deeply regret that this has happened," Stewart Parnell, owner and president of Peanut Corp. of America, said in a news release. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily withdrawing this produce and contacting our customers."

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