Peanut butter is in almost every home, but now, the Food and Drug Administration is telling people to throw thousands of jars away. The FDA is tracing a salmonella outbreak to a south Georgia manufacturing plant that produces jars of Peter Pan and Great Value Brand Peanut Butter for ConAgra.
Nearly 300 cases have been reported in 39 states, including Georgia and South Carolina, since August. No one has died. Food and Drug Administration officials say 85% of those people ate from certain jars of peanut butter. Those jars have a product code on the lid or on the side of the container that begins with the numbers: 2111. If you have one of those jars, throw it away, but save the top (or the side label) with the product code to mail in for a refund.
Since the recall, supermarkets have been pulling the jars off their shelves. Health departments have been advising people to check their peanut butter jars at home. They're reporting 14 cases in Georgia that may be linked to the peanut butter recall. Only one of those is in the eight county area served by the Chatham County Health Department. Still, Chatham County health officials are urging everyone to be careful.
"We're getting calls from folks who are concerned with what to do with the peanut butter," said Robert Thornton, who as the Chatham County Health Department's epidemiologist, studies in the spread, prevention and control of disease in community settings. "We're telling them if they have the particular lot numbers that match the recall to, obviously, do not consume the peanut butter."
Jars of Peter Pan and Great Value Brand Peanut Butter with the lot number 2-1-1-1 have been linked to salmonella poisoning. Salmonella is a bacteria that causes fever, abdominal cramping, and diarrhea that may or may not be bloody. Most symptoms usually show up within 12 - 72 hours, although it can take as long as seven days to see any effects.
"We're urging folks that if you do have those types of symptoms, that you seek medical treatment from your physician or healthcare provider," said Thornton.
If you have eaten the peanut butter affected by the recall, the health department says don't panic, just throw the rest of it out.
"If you've eaten the peanut butter," Thornton explained, "you may not necessarily get sick. If you do get sick, you may want to go to the physician and tell your physician that you've consumed peanut butter and your symptoms."
If you have a jar of Peter Pan or Great Value Brand Peanut Butter with the lot or product code that starts with the numbers 2111 (located on the lid or the side of the container), throw the jar out, but save the lid (or label with the product code). You can mail it, along with your name and address to ConAgra Foods, P.O. Box 3768, Omaha, NE 68103 for a full refund.
ConAgra Foods Consumer Toll-Free Hotline: 1-866-344-6970
Questions and answers about the outbreak from the Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/salmonellosis_2007/PeterPanQAs.pdf
Learn more about salmonella from the CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/salmonellosis_g.htm