Money Matters - Simplified

Peanut butter eyed in salmonella outbreak

Minnesota, United states, January 9: The cause of national outbreak of salmonella typhimurium that has sickened nearly 400 people and put 70 in hospital, in 42 states, is still unknown. But peanut butter raises a few eyebrows.

A product alert was issued by the health officials when a preliminary laboratory testing revealed bacteria in five pound container of King Nut brand peanut butter. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture and Department of Health, thereafter, issued a warning to discontinue the use of the peanut butter, which was primarily used in schools, nursing homes, restaurants and care facilities.

State officials are urging establishments who may have the product on hand to avoid serving it, pending further instructions as the investigation progresses.

Dough Schultz of the state’s Department of Health declared, "We pulled the sample peanut butter from one of the nursing homes that had ill patients connected to this outbreak."

The U.S. Center for Disease and Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the numbers in each of the 42 states. California was the worst hit with 55 cases, Ohio had 53 and Minnesota reported 30.

Schultz said, “We have 30 illnesses in Minnesota that are connected to the outbreak strain and all of those 30 illnesses report eating some type of peanut butter and many if not most of them have been connected to this King Nut brand. We felt it was important to get the word out so if there are institutions that have this peanut butter, they wouldn't use it."

In 2007, the Peter Pan brand of peanut butter was linked to the outbreak of salmonella. ConAgro Foods Inc had closed the Georgia plant at the time after more than 300 people were taken ill.

The CDC is trying to trace the source of the outbreak which began in early September, but most of the illnesses surfaced in October. Tracking the culprit is tricky business, since most of the poultry, cheese and eggs are considered the common cause of salmonella strain.

Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. It generally lasts four-seven days. Though most recover without medical attention, severe problems can develop in the very young and the very old, and those with impaired immune systems.