Salmonella Outbreak Prompts Peanut Butter Recall

Peanut butter has was recalled by King Nut Companies Inc. after it was named a suspect in a <"">salmonella outbreak. In a press release announcing the recall, King Nut Companies said salmonella had been found in one opened 5-pound container of King Nut peanut butter.

According to, the tainted King Nut peanut butter was found in Minnesota, where it may have contributed to one death.  It is not known if the salmonella found in the King Nut peanut butter is the same strain responsible for a multi-state outbreak currently under investigation by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Lab results that could answer that question are expected this week.

The  recall includes all peanut butters bearing the King Nut label, as well as those distributed under the Parnell’s Pride brand.  King Nut Companies asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter with a lot code that begins with the numeral “8.”  King Nut distributes peanut butter only through food service account, and it is  not sold directly to consumers. The company said in its press release that all other King Nut products are safe and not included in this voluntary recall.

King Nut said it did not supply any of the ingredients for the peanut butter distributed under its label, and that the recalled peanut butter is made by Peanut Corporation of America.  According to CNN, Peanut Corporation of America has headquarters in Lynchburg, Virginia, and processing operations in Virginia, Georgia and Texas. King Nut said in its press release that it has canceled all of its orders with that company.

On Friday, the CDC said that 399 cases of salmonella have been confirmed nationally, with nearly 20 percent of those stricken requiring hospitalization.  The outbreak began between Sept. 3 and Dec. 29, but most of the people grew sick after Oct. 1, the CDC said. Patients range in age from infants to 98 years. The salmonella strain involved in this particular outbreak is Salmonella Typhimurium, the same strain responsible for the 2007 Banquet Pot Pie outbreak that sickened over 400 people in over 40 states.

Of the 42 states where Salmonella Typhimurium has been identified, California, with 55 victims, is reporting the highest number of cases.  It is followed by Ohio with 53 cases, Massachusetts with 39, Minnesota with 30 and Michigan with 20. Other cases have been reported in  Alabama (1 case), Arizona (8), Arkansas (3), Colorado (9), Connecticut (6), Georgia (5), Hawaii (1), Idaho (10), Illinois (4), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (2), Kentucky (3), Maine (3), Maryland (7), Missouri (8), Nebraska (1), New Hampshire (10), New Jersey (13), New York (12), Nevada (6), North Carolina (1), North Dakota (10), Oklahoma (2), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (12), Rhode Island (3), South Dakota (2), Tennessee (9), Texas (5), Utah (3), Vermont (4), Virginia (12),Washington (11), West Virginia (2), Wisconsin (3), and Wyoming (2).

This would not be the first time tainted peanut butter has been implicated in a salmonella outbreak.  In February 2007, another salmonella outbreak prompted a recall of <"">ConAgra’s Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butters. Those tainted peanut butters were  ultimately blamed for  600 cases of salmonella poisoning across the country. ConAgra faulted a leaky roof and malfunctioning sprinkler system at its production facility for causing the Salmonella contamination. The plant in Sylvester, Georgia was closed due to the recall, but reopened later that summer.

Salmonella bacteria cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 72 hours of exposure. Children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems are especially vulnerable to complications from salmonella poisoning. In rare cases, extreme instances of salmonella poisoning can lead to a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, which is associated with chronic arthritis.

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