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Pot Pie Salmonella Poisoning
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Banquet Pot Pies Made by ConAgra Foods Tied to Salmonella Outbreak

ConAgra, Still Reeling from Peter Pan Peanut Butter Debacle, Claims Pies are Safe

Oct 9, 2007 | Parker Waichman LLP

Another ConAgra Foods product has been implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning.  Officials in several states have reportedly linked the company’s Banquet Pot Pies to several cases of Salmonella.   Right now, officials at ConAgra say no recall of the pot pies is in the works, and the company insists that the product is safe if consumers prepare it properly.   ConAgra is still trying to recover from this year’s recall of its Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter.  Those products were blamed for a multi-state Salmonella outbreak that sickened hundreds. 

According to the Associated Press, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is investigating a large Salmonella outbreak in several states.  Health officials in those states have linked many of the illnesses  the chicken and turkey varieties of Banquet Pot Pies.  No other information regarding the Salmonella outbreak has been released, although, the CDC is expected to issue some findings later today.

For its part, a ConAgra spokesperson told the Associated Press that the company believes the pies are safe.  ConAgra appears to be trying to defect blame for the outbreak by claiming that consumers are not preparing the Banquet Pot Pies correctly.  The ConAgra spokesperson said that proper cooking would kill any pathogens in the Banquet Pot Pies, and that steam rising from a pie was a good sign that it had cooked thoroughly.

According to the CDC, Salmonella affects around 40,000 people every year.   The illness is mostly associated with undercooked products that contain eggs or poultry; however recent outbreaks of Salmonella poisoning have been tied to fresh produce and snack food.   Salmonella causes fever, abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloody diarrhea.  Symptoms appear within 36 hours of exposure, and usually last four to seven days.  Salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.  Some victims of Salmonella will develop a disease called Reiter’s Syndrome, a difficult- to- treat condition that can lead to chronic arthritis.

ConAgra is still reeling from this February’s recall of Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butters.   Those tainted peanut butters were blamed for an outbreak of Salmonella poisoning that sickened more than 600 people.   ConAgra faulted a leaky roof and malfunctioning sprinkler system at its production facility for causing the Salmonella contamination. The plant in Sylvester, Georgia was closed due to the recall, but reopened earlier this summer.

In August, ConAgra re-launched Peter Pan, once one of the country’s top-selling peanut butters.  The product returned to stores with much fanfare, with ConAgra backing Peter Pan with a 100-percent money back guarantee. Prior to the launch, ConAgra mailed out 2 million coupons for free Peter Pan Peanut Butter, as well as $1-off coupons. ConAgra has also redesigned the Peter Pan Peanut Butter jar with a  “New Look” label.  All of this was an attempt to win back customer trust after the Salmonella debacle badly damaged the Peter Pan brand’s image.  But these efforts to rehabilitate Peter Pan might not do any good if a new Salmonella outbreak is associated with yet another ConAgra product.


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