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Salmonella Outbreak Tied to 3 Deaths

Jan 14, 2009 | Parker Waichman LLP, LLP A nationwide salmonella outbreak that has sickened over 400  has been implicated in the deaths of three people,  according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).  Meanwhile, another company has issued a peanut butter recall amid concerns that the popular food might be causing the salmonella epidemic.

According to a report in The Washington Post,  three people infected with the outbreak strain of salmonella have died - two from Virginia and one from Minnesota.  The CDC said it has not yet determined if salmonella caused or contributed to the deaths.  At least 425 people in 43 states have fallen ill, the CDC said.

An important clue to the outbreak was discovered last week, after salmonella found in a  5 pound can of  King Nut peanut butter at a Minnesota  nursing home proved to be the outbreak strain. Over the weekend, King Nut Companies Inc.  recalled its peanut butters as a precaution.   The  recall included all peanut butters bearing the King Nut label, as well as those distributed under the Parnell’s Pride brand.  King Nut Companies asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter with a lot code that begins with the numeral “8.”  The recalled peanut butters were made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), and King Nut said in its press release that it has canceled all of its orders with PCA.

Last evening, PCA announced a recall of all peanut butter made at its Blakely, Ga., processing facility on or after July 1, 2008 "because it has the potential to be contaminated with salmonella."  The recalled peanut butter is sold in bulk packages between five and 50 pounds. The peanut butter being recalled is sold by PCA in bulk packaging to distributors for institutional and food service industry use.

This would not be the first time tainted peanut butter has been implicated in a salmonella outbreak.  In February 2007, another salmonella outbreak prompted a recall of ConAgra’s Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butters. Those tainted peanut butters were  ultimately blamed for  600 cases of salmonella poisoning across the country. 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 later that summer.

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