Peanut butter may be source of Arkansas cases of salmonellaFeb 16, 2007 | www.pbcommercial.com
It's hard to tell if three cases of salmonellosis in Arkansas are part of a salmonella outbreak linked to certain jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter, but some of those jars entered the state, a state health official says.
Three Arkansans were ill with the same strain of salmonellosis that federal health officials said sickened 288 people in 39 states since August 2006, according to Health Division spokeswoman Ann Wright. But she said there are no current cases of salmonellosis in the state,
"Our cases are old cases, not recent," Wright said Thursday. "We don't know if our cases are part of this outbreak or not."
The peanut butter was produced by ConAgra Foods at a plant in Sylvester, Ga. The company said consumers should throw away jars of the spread with a product code beginning "2111" or return them to the company for a refund. The Great Value peanut butter, which is also made by other companies, is a Wal-Mart brand.
How salmonella got into peanut butter is still under investigation, and ConAgra officials haven't said how much peanut butter is covered in the recall, which it called a precaution.
But Wright said some of the peanut butter is in the state.
"We do know that we have some of this peanut butter in Arkansas, but how much and where, we don't know," she said.
CDC officials believe the salmonella outbreak to be the nation's first associated with peanut butter. The most cases were reported in Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Virginia.
About 20 percent of all the ill were hospitalized, and there were no deaths. About 85 percent of the infected people said they ate peanut butter, CDC officials said.
Salmonella infection is known each year to sicken about 40,000 people in the United States, according to the CDC. Salmonellosis, as the infection is known, kills about 600 people annually.
Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, dehydration, abdominal pain and vomiting, and usually appear 12 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, Wright said.
Other states reporting cases are Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.