Four Types of Salmonella Found at PCA Plant A massive, nationwide salmonella outbreak linked to a Georgia peanut butter processing plant involves four types of pathogens. According to Scientific American, the firm to blame apparently knew its products were tainted on a number of occasions over the past two years, but shipped them to customers anyway.
Yesterday, the Associated Press (AP) reported that an official with Congress confirmed that health officials discovered four different salmonella strains connected with the outbreak. Salmonella Typhimurium caused the illnesses; two other, different salmonella strains were discovered on the floor of the Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA) Georgia facility; and, yet another strain was found in a container of peanut butter from the PCA plant, reported the AP.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News reported that according to U.S. health officials, PCA shipped its peanut butter products on 12 different occasions in 2007 and 2008 following tests proving the products were contaminated with the dangerous, sometimes deadly germ. Apparently, after receiving confirmation of the presence of salmonella in its products, PCA hired other laboratories to conduct additional tests, but actually continued to supply its products to customers according to Michael Rogers, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) director of field investigations, said Bloomberg.
FDA Issued Violation Against PCA
Although the FDA finally issued a violation notice against PCA based on inspection of its Blakely plant, which began on January 9, the FDA did not inspect the Georgia plant during 2007 and 2008, Rogers said, reported Bloomberg. Inspections were conducted by Georgia state officials under contract with the FDA. The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is investigating the outbreak and if the FDA was involved. Committee chairman, Representative Bart Stupak (Democrat-Michigan) said that, “The fact that four different strains of salmonella have been tied to Peanut Butter Corporation of America’s plant and products show not only that the company was not adhering to good manufacturing practices, but also that FDA inspectors were asleep at the switch.”
According to Scientific American, Rogers said that PCA did not clean its Blakely, Georgia plant or otherwise take steps to minimize the tainting of is other products. Rogers said, “There were no steps taken” by PCA to reduce contamination at the time, speaking in a telephone briefing for reporters conducted jointly by the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC stated that the outbreak began in September.
According to Bloomberg, Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA’s Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said it has visited over 1,000 companies, which purchased products from PCA and is also tracking shipments and reviewing records. “We expect the list of recalled products to expand,” Sundlof said. Sundlof added that it’s “a violation of the law” to ship contaminated products, reported Bloomberg.
Robert Tauxe, deputy director at the CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Bacterial, and Mycotic Diseases, said that have of those sickened have been under the age of 16 and 21 percent have been younger than five years of age, reported Bloomberg. Also, 108 people—22 percent—have required hospitalization, said Tauxe.
Salmonella can cause serious, sometimes fatal infections in young children, weak, or elderly people. Healthy people may experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain if infected.