Banquet Pot Pies Blamed For 139 Cases of Salmonella Poisoning
Pot Pie Maker ConAgra Causes Another Salmonella OutbreakOct 10, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP
Banquet Pot Pies and other generic frozen pot pies manufactured by ConAgra Foods have been linked to a massive outbreak of Salmonella poisoning around the country. At least 139 cases of the food borne illness in 30 states are thought to be related to the tainted ConAgra made Banquet pot pies. This is the second time in less than a year that a ConAgra Foods product has been tied to a widespread epidemic of Salmonella poisoning.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is warning consumers not to eat turkey or chicken varieties of Banquet pot pies or other frozen not-ready-to-eat pot pies marketed by ConAgra Foods. All of the pot pies involved in the USDA health alert are marked with “P-9” printed on the side of the box as part of a code above the “use-by” date. In spite of the USDA warning, ConAgra is not recalling the Salmonella contaminated pot pies. However, consumers can return the product for a refund.
Pending the outcome of the USDA investigation, ConAgra Foods has temporarily halted production at the Missouri plant that produced the contaminated Banquet Pot Pies. The company continues to insist that the Banquet Pot Pies and the other pies produced there are safe, and that the Salmonella epidemic is most likely the result of consumers undercooking the pies. But one epidemiologist told the Associated Press that the fact that so many people have become ill after eating the Banquet Pot Pies indicates that the cooking instructions on the packages are not adequate. While cooking will usually kill Salmonella bacteria, the pathogen can survive in microwaves because they do not always cook foods evenly. In its press release, ConAgra said it was working to revise the instructions to more clearly illustrate different cooking times for pot pies related to varying wattages of microwaves.
According to the USDA, the Centers for Disease Control first began investigating the Salmonella outbreak on October 3, and determined that many victims had eaten either a Banquet or store-brand pot pie manufactured by ConAgra prior to becoming ill. Salmonella contamination can lead to a serious illness that causes fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea. Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems. Some victims of Salmonella poisoning will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that can lead to chronic arthritis. In the past few years, Salmonella outbreaks have been traced to a variety of foods, including snack mix, tomatoes and pet foods.
One of the year’s largest Salmonella epidemics was blamed on yet another ConAgra product. In February, more than 600 cases of Salmonella poisoning were tied to contaminated Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter made by ConAgra. The Salmonella contamination was blamed on a leaky roof and malfunctioning sprinkler system at ConAgra’s manufacturing facility in Sylvester, Georgia. The company only recently returned Peter Pan Peanut Butter to the market, just weeks prior to the Banquet Pot Pie Salmonella scare.