Salmonella: Sunland Inc. Peanut and Nut Butter Recall

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Salmonella strands: Photo by Public Library of Science.

Peanut butter – a food that’s found in many homes across America – is now the latest victim of a recall.

And it’s not the first time, either.

As of October 5, 2012, this particular peanut butter that is being recalled has caused 35 people to become sick with salmonella in 19 states, and sixty-three percent of these cases involve children under the age of ten, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Peanut Butter Brands Recalled

The affected facility is the Sunland Inc. factory in New Mexico. Sunland sells its products to a number of stores in the United States.

Peanut Butter, the latest food to be recalled. Photo by: freestock.ca

Some of these stores include: Trader Joe’s, Target, Safeway, Kroger, Sprouts, and others. As the investigation continues, authorities have discovered that it’s just not peanut butter that’s affected, but also other nut butters (almond, cashew, and tahini). The brand names that are affected are numerous. The recalled list also includes products made with the affected peanut butter, such as candy and other spreads. According to Sunland’s recall announcement, the affected products were manufactured between May 1, 2012 and September 24, 2012. For a complete list, please visit Sunland’s recall announcement to see affected peanut and nut butters and their UPC numbers.

What is Salmonella Poisoning?

Salmonella poisoning is caused by a bacterium that can come into contact with food. Eating contaminated foods can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, which develop within 12 to 72 hours of consuming the contaminated food. The illness lasts four to seven days and most people recover without any medical treatment, however, dehydration can occur and hospitalization may be needed in severe cases. The elderly, the very young, and people with a compromised immune system are most at risk for dehydration. If you think you may have salmonella poisoning, contact your health care provider.

How Does Salmonella Get in Peanut Butter?

Salmonella is the most common cause of foodborne illness, according to the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.  Somewhere between the farm and our tables, the food becomes infected, but figuring out how and where isn’t always quick or easy. Some sources include:

  • Animal feces coming into contact with our food.
  • Raw meat or poultry (chicken is notorious for this) are not cooked thoroughly.
  • Unwashed hands can also transfer salmonella to foods.

So how did salmonella get into Sunland’s processing plant? The investigators don’t know yet. On October 5, 2012 various samples were taken at Sunland Inc. and salmonella was found, but there are different types (strains) of salmonella, so investigators are still waiting on test results to find out if the strain of salmonella found at Sunland, is the same strand that is making people sick.

Prevent Salmonella Poisoning: What Can You Do?

To ensure that you don’t have a contaminated product, check the UPC number and the manufacture’s date with Sunland’s list of recalled products. If you do have a recalled jar of nut butter, then the FDA recommends that you throw away or return it to the place of purchase.

It is important to stay up to date on the latest recalls, either through news stations, the CDC, or the FDA. If you become sick, and have recently consumed peanut butter, nut butter, or a product containing either of them, contact your doctor’s office.

Resources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney Infections Linked to Peanut Butter Manufactured By Sunland, Inc. (2012). Accessed October 7, 2012.

U.S Food and Drug Administration. FDA Investigates Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney Infections Linked to Peanut Butter made by Sunland Inc. (2012). Accessed October 7, 2012.

United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. Foodborne Illness and Disease. (2011). Accessed October 7, 2012.

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