NATIONAL NEWS – Federal health authorities from the Food and Drug Administration issued a release on Saturday, January 17, 2009, warning consumers to avoid eating any food products that contain peanut butter or peanut butter flavored ingredients. It is now believed that a peanut butter paste manufactured by Peanut Corp. of America and distributed for use in products sold nationwide is the likely cause of the nationwide salmonella food poisoning outbreak that has sicken 470 people and killed lead to at least six reported deaths.
According to Stephen Sundolf, head of the FDA food product safety division, “there is no indication that the major national name-brand jars of peanut butter sold in retails stores are linked to the recall.” Yet until such time that federal authorities can pin down the exact cause of the deadly outbreak of salmonella contamination, including linking all products that may have been affected, the FDA is urging consumers to postpone eating all products that contain peanut butter. This includes products such as cookies, cakes, crackers and other peanut butter containing items.
Taking a proactive measure to protect its customers, The Kellogg Co., which uses Peanut Corp. as one of its ingredient suppliers, announced today that it has recalled 16 products that contain peanut butter paste, including its Austin brand Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Famous Amos Peanut Butter Cookies and Keebler Soft Batch Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookies and Keebler Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers. In a similar move, Peanut Corp. itself today recalled all peanut butter related products it manufactured at its Georgia plant dating back as far an June 2008.
Despite the seriousness of the widespread salmonella outbreak and related injuries that has been reported, the FDA lacks authority to order a recall of any products, and must rather rely on companies to voluntarily withdraw their products. If you have any products that contain peanut butter ingredients, it is recommended that the items be discarded. The risk of being exposed to the salmonella contamination is not worth the minimal expense associated with discarding all peanut butter containing products.
William M. Berman is the Founding and Managing Partner of Berman & Riedel, LLP, a California based plaintiffs’ civil litigation firm which focuses its practice in handling catastrophic personal injury and wrongful death matters including serious injury claims caused by defective products and contaminated food poisoning products/agriculture.