Peanut Salmonella Recall
Since the beginning of the peanut salmonella outbreak last September 2008, more than 714 people have become ill from food poisoning due to Salmonella Typhimurium and it has contributed to at least 9 deaths. The illnesses have been traced back to the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) processing plants in Blakely, GA and Plainview, TX, which have since closed.
So far, the CDC has received reports of six deaths and 107 hospitalizations among more than 714 people people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in 46 U.S. states and one Canadian province.
Although Salmonella Typhimurium illnesses were reported as early as August 2008, they were not linked to peanut butter until January 2009—and the time of the peanut butter salmonella recall.
The now-closed PCA plants provided peanut butter and peanut paste for 85 different companies, including the Kellogg Company that recalled several varieties of its Keebler peanut butter snack crackers. PCA products include cookies, crackers, candies, ice cream, nutrition bars, and dog treats.
Congress held a hearing to investigate the practices of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA). Meanwhile, lawsuits have been filed against PCA and the Kellogg Company; one death has been linked to the latter's recalled Keebler brand peanut butter cracker sandwiches.
The Peanut Corporation of America allegedly failed to maintain proper conditions and practices conducive for managing safety protocols at their facilities. As well, inspectors apparently cleared plants that contained obvious problems. The Blakely plant was closed after inspectors found mold, roaches and a leak in the roof. Salmonella was also found at the second PCA facility in Plainview, Texas: inspectors also found rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers in a crawl space immediately above the production area.
The FDA last inspected the Blakely plant back in 2001. Since then, it had relied upon state health inspectors to do the work. After the recall, it was discovered that the plant did not have a valid state health certificate, and the state inspector had certified the plant using incomplete information. Although PCA has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, one attorney is moving to lift the stay of bankruptcy so that litigation can continue.
Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.
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