Peanut Butter Salmonella Recalls Include Little Debbie SnacksJan 19, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP
Little Debbie snacks are the latest peanut butter-containing foods to be recalled amid a nationwide salmonella outbreak. The outbreak has been linked to a Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) facility in Georgia which supplies peanut paste and peanut butter to 85 other food firms. Little Debbie joined a growing list of companies that recalled snacks over the weekend. Meanwhile, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers to avoid eating any foods that contain peanut butter.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium has sickened 474 people in 43 states. At least six have died. Nearly a quarter of those sickened have required hospitalization, the CDC said.
Peanut butter became the prime suspect in the salmonella outbreak after the bacteria was found in an opened 5-pound container of King Nut peanut butter made by PCA. That prompted both King Nut Company and PCA to recall peanut butters made at the plant, including those sold under the King Nut and Parnell's pride labels.
Last week, the salmonella found in the King Nut peanut butter was confirmed to be the outbreak strain, and late Friday, investigators announced they found salmonella in peanut butter at PCA's Blakeley, Georgia facility. That plant has since been closed pending further investigation. In addition to peanut butter, the PCA factory also makes peanut paste, an ingredient in everything from baked goods to sauces.
The announcement set off an avalanche of recalls which are sure to continue in the coming days. Kellogg Company was the first to issue a snack food recall on Friday evening. The company is recalling several varieties of Keebler and Austin snack crackers as cookies, as well as Famous Amos cookies made with peanut butter.
Yesterday, McKee Food Corporation recalled all sizes of Little Debbie Peanut Butter Toasty sandwich crackers and Little Debbie Peanut Butter Cheese sandwich crackers. According to a McKee Food press release, those crackers were also made by Kellogg. Products impacted by the recall were produced on or after July 1, 2008.
Other companies that recalled product over the weekend include:
- South Bend Chocolate Co., of Indiana: South Bend brand name and bulk candies that contain peanut butter
- Perry's Ice Cream Co., of Buffalo, N.Y: Certain peanut butter ice cream products
- Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, Inc.: Food Lion Bake Shop brand Peanut Butter Cookies; Certain Varieties of Lofthouse brand Peanut Butter Cookies and Peanut Butter Fudge Cookies; Parco Foods’ Chuck’s Chunky food service brand Peanut Butter Cookies; and Pastries Plus Gourmet Cookies
- Hy-Vee Inc.: Peanut Butter Cookies, Monster Cookies, Peanut Butter Reese's Pieces Cookies, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Lunchbox Reese's Pieces Cookies, Lunchbox Peanut Butter Cookies, People Chow Party Mix and Assorted Truffle Fudge
As a precaution, the FDA is urging consumers to avoid all snacks containing peanut butter or peanut paste until the salmonella investigation is complete. However, the agency said most peanut butter sold in jars at retail stores appears to be safe. PCA peanut butters are sold in bulk to food service firms and institutions.
On Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has opened its own inquiry into the outbreak. Last Thursday, Committee Chairman Henry Wexler (D-Calif.) and Bart Stupak (D-Michigan), the chair of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, wrote to PCA seeking information and documents pertaining to the outbreak, as well as information regarding conditions at its Georgia facility.