Sunday, January 18, 2009

Peanut Butter Recall

For the past week, the FDA has been investigating a Salmonella outbreak in peanut butter. See their website for up to date information and specific product recalls.

January 18, 2009: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is conducting a very active and dynamic investigation into the source of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. At this time, the FDA has traced a source of Salmonella Typhimurium contamination to a plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), which manufactures both peanut butter that is institutionally served in such settings as long-term care facilities and cafeterias, and peanut paste—a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts—that is distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many commercially produced products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream.
At this time, there is no indication that any national name brand jars of peanut butter sold in retail stores are linked to the PCA recall. As the investigation continues over the weekend, and into next week, the FDA will be able to update the advice based on new sampling and distribution information.
Similar to the tomato outbreak last summer, this highlights one of the drawbacks of an industrial food chain. Pathogens can spread rapidly to millions of people, and attempting to find the ultimate source can be a nearly impossible task. This makes the case for local food even more compelling. While a local food chain is certainly not immune to food-borne illness outbreaks, the impacts are localized, which makes them smaller as well as easier to find and remedy.

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