FDA Warns Consumers Not to Eat Peanut Butter Products

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By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
Sunday, January 18, 2009; 12:00 AM

SUNDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to eat peanut butter products containing peanut butter or peanut butter paste, as the recall of products widened Sunday while the salmonella outbreak probe continued.

The U.S. health warning, issued Saturday, focused on products made with peanut butter, like crackers, not jars of peanut butter on store shelves, the agency said.

"We are urging people not to eat products that have peanut butter until we have better information, and they can make an informed choice," Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said at a Saturday teleconference, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The official toll from the outbreak across 43 states and Canada now stands at 470 people sickened, with six deaths that have been linked.

Meanwhile, cereal giant Kellogg recalled 16 products containing peanut butter late Friday. The recall involved 33,000 cases of cookies and 7 million cases of crackers on grocery shelves, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Kellogg's recall included Keebler cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers and Keebler and Famous Amos peanut butter cookies.

By Sunday, other companies had joined the recall list, according to the Associated Press.

McKee Foods Corp. of Collegedale, Tenn., recalled Little Debbie Peanut Butter Toasty and Peanut Butter Cheese Sandwich Crackers, which the company said were manufactured by Kellogg.

Hy-Vee Inc., which distributes in several states, recalled various bakery products containing peanut butter. And Perry's Ice Cream announced a voluntary recall of select ice cream products containing peanut butter.

The recalls followed a request late last week from the FDA for salmonella testing by food companies that may have bought peanut butter or peanut paste from a Georgia facility owned by the Peanut Corp. of America.

U.S. health officials late Friday said at least 85 companies had purchased peanut products from the Georgia plant and 30 had been "urged" to run their own tests for the bacteria, the AP reported.

Sundlof told a late Friday teleconference: "We have traced one likely source of salmonella contamination to a plant owned by the Peanut Corp. of America in Georgia, which makes both a brand of peanut butter distributed in bulk to large institutions like nursing homes, and also produces a peanut paste that is distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many products, including cookies, crackers, cereal and ice cream."


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