Salmonella May be in FEMA Food KitsFeb 5, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP Those emergency food packages that were distributed in response to the recent Kentucky and Arkansas winter storm disasters are likely to contain salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). CNN is reporting that the contaminated peanut butter included in the food kits distributed by FEMA are probably linked to the ongoing, nationwide salmonella outbreak.
"Commercial meals kits manufactured by Red Cloud Food Services Inc., under the Standing Rock label, have been provided to disaster survivors in impacted communities, and these kits may contain peanut butter which is part of the precautionary national recall underway in accordance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration," FEMA said in a written statement, reported CNN. FEMA added that the food kits contain different main courses, but all contain peanut butter packets, adding that, "People who have received commercial meal kits are asked to inspect the kits in their possession and immediately dispose of any peanut butter packets." UPI reported that the peanut butter was supplied in clear, one-ounce packets, according to FEMA.
The food kits were sent following President Barack Obama’s declaring Kentucky and Arkansas federal disaster areas after a severe winter storm decimated parts of the states with rain, ice, and snow and which has left thousands of people homeless and in shelters, said CNN. AHN Media reported that the Kentucky ice storm was handled, in part, by the largest National Guard response in Kentucky’s history.
The prepared foods manufacturer posted the recall on January 19; however it remains unknown why FEMA distributed meals containing peanut butter not only two weeks after the meals’ recall, but in the midst of a huge salmonella outbreak that involves one of the products supplied in the meals, said UPI.
The salmonella outbreak has sickened over 550 people, is believed to be responsible for eight deaths, and has involved over 1,000 separate food product recalls, the UPI reported. Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) is the manufacturer solely responsible for the tainted peanut, peanut paste, and peanut butter products. CNN also reported that a criminal investigation has been implemented by federal officials into PCA.
It appears as if filthy conditions at the PCA plant may have contributed to the salmonella contamination, which is sweeping the nation, and has affected 43 states and Canada. Recent reports have also been released that confirm that PCA had a leaky roof, roaches, and mold at the manufacturing plant linked to the outbreak. Also, media outlets have also quoted a PCA employee who claims to have once found a rat in the factory' peanut roaster. Most recently, investigations also revealed that PCA ran a plant that did not have a license to operate and which had never been inspected in the years since its opening.
PCA has recalled peanut butter, peanut paste, and other ingredients made at the plant responsible for the contamination, which has since been shut down. Also, scores of other firms that were supplied by PCA have recalled hundreds of foods made with PCA products. The recalls continue on a daily basis, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has created an online, searchable database in response to the food borne contamination catastrophe.