4 in state part of salmonella outbreakFeb 16, 2007 | www.hattiesburgamerican.com
Four cases of salmonella infection in Mississippi may be linked to tainted peanut butter that is part of a nationwide recall, state health officials said Thursday.
Stores around the nation have pulled from their shelves jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter that officials say may contain the salmonella bacterium that can cause illness or death.
Almost 300 people in 39 states have been sickened by the peanut butter.
Only jars of the peanut butter that have a product code that begins with the number 2111 are affected.
The state health department said in a prepared release that laboratory testing has shown that infections it is investigating are the same strain identified with the tainted peanut butter. Health officials did not identify the victims or hometowns.
Gail Smith of Hattiesburg said Thursday her daughter had recently bought a jar of the recalled peanut butter.
"You hear of these things and find it's usually in other states. You think of all the little kids who eat peanut butter," she said.
The salmonella outbreak was linked to peanut butter produced by ConAgra Foods at a plant in Sylvester, Ga. How salmonella got into peanut butter is still under investigation, said Dr. Mike Lynch, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The latest outbreak began in August, with no more than two cases reported each day, CDC officials said. Only in the past few days did investigators hone in on peanut butter as a source, Lynch said.
Wal-Mart, which carries both brands of peanut butter, said its stores immediately removed the recalled items.
"As an additional precautionary measure, we have also put a sales restriction on the products in question so that, should one inadvertently be scanned, a restriction notice will come up for the cashier," spokeswoman Jami Arms said.