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Seventh Salmonella Death Tied to Peanut Products

At least 38 companies across U.S. involved as salmonella outbreak action continues; Girl Scouts, Hershey and Kraft Foods say their products are safe

SATURDAY. Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Another person has died from salmonella poisoning believed to come from peanut paste products, bringing the nationwide number to seven.

According to a reports in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, state health officials say the death of an elderly Minnesota woman Jan. 23 was caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhimurium.

In all, there have been three deaths in Minnesota, two in Virginia and one each in North Carolina and Idaho.

More than 200 peanut butter and peanut paste products from at least 38 companies have been recalled so far in the ongoing salmonella outbreak, according to the latest count posted Friday on the U.S. health department's Web site.

The number of people sickened is now 492, the CDC said, with cases in 43 states and one Canadian province. And the scope of the problem is being rapidly revealed in such continually climbing numbers.

  • Peanut Corp of America, whose now-closed Georgia production plant was the source of the salmonella, has issued a recall for at least 6,255 pounds of peanut butter and peanut paste sold in bulk, according to a company news release.
  • The company distributed potentially contaminated product to more than 70 firms, according to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report Thursday.
  • The product recalls translate so far into an estimated 31 million pounds of peanut butter and peanut paste products, according to an Associated Press report Friday.
  • The scramble for safety is set against this: Americans eat 700 million pounds of peanut butter every year, according to the National Peanut Board.

While jars of peanut butter on store shelves appear to be safe, many other products made with peanut butter or peanut paste have been recalled across the country.

That's because Peanut Corp. sells its peanut butter and peanut paste in bulk containers "for use as an ingredient in hundreds of different products, such as cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and ice cream," the FDA said.

The recalled products range from cookie dough to candy and nutrition bars and also dog biscuits.

However, there is also a growing list of companies reporting that their products containing peanut butter are safe. Girl Scouts USA, the Hershey Co. and Kraft Foods Inc. are telling consumers their foods haven't been affected by the salmonella scare, the New York Daily News reported Friday.

In addition, ConAgra, which was involved in a major Peter Pan brand salmonella recall two years ago, as well as J. M. Smucker, of Orville, Ohio, and Russell Stover Candies Inc. also reported their products were safe.

"We're getting lots of calls," said Michelle L. Tompkins, a spokeswoman for Girl Scouts USA. The two bakeries that produce 200 million boxes of Girl Scout cookies each year don't use any PCA products, she told the newspaper.

The flood of recalls followed an FDA warning last weekend that consumers should avoid peanut butter products containing peanut butter or peanut butter paste while the widespread salmonella outbreak probe continued.

As of Friday, the FDA Web site listed these recalled products.

For a list of products determined to be safe from the recall, check the American Peanut Council.

Peanut Corp. issued a wider recall over the weekend for more products and lot numbers relating to peanut butter and peanut paste products manufactured on or after July 1, 2008, at its Blakely, Ga., plant.

"The products being recalled are sold by PCA in bulk containers ranging in size from five to 1,700 pounds. The peanut paste is sold in sizes ranging from 35-pound containers to product sold by the tanker container," an FDA statement said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said late Thursday that the latest salmonella illness was recorded on Jan. 8 and that there are now 488 victims, ranging in age from younger than 1 to 98.

The strain of salmonella involved with the outbreak has been identified as Salmonella Typhimurium, the most common of the more than 2,500 types of salmonella bacteria in the United States.

More information

For more on the outbreak, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: Jan. 23, 2009, U.S. Food and Drug Administration update; Jan. 21, 2009, news conference, Stephen Sundlof, D.V.M., director, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Jan. 20, 2009, news release, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Jan. 18, 2009, news release, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; Jan. 19, 2009, news release, Clif Bar & Co.; Jan. 19, 2009, news release, Abbott Nutrition; Jan. 18, 2009, news release, Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products; Jan. 17, 2009, news release, Perry's Ice Cream Co.; Jan. 17, 2009, news release, Hy-Vee Bakery; Jan. 14, 2009, news release, Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich.; Jan 10, 2009, online statement, Peanut Corp. of America; Associated Press

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