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Salmonella Inside Major Peanut Distributor Causing More Recalls For Big Brand Products

The ongoing international peanut product recalls resulting from Salmonella found in the Portales, New Mexico peanut processing plant of Sunland Inc. has now reached 240 products from brands including: American Choice, Archer Farms, Arrowhead Mills, Cadia, Dogsbutter, Earth Balance, Harry & David, heinen’s, Joseph’s, Valencia, Natural Value, Open Nature, Peanut Power, Serious Food, Sprout’s, Sun Harvest, Sunland Natural, Trader Joe’s, and Tropical Traditions.

Image courtesy of flutnut.com.

Retailers that have been affected include Starbucks, and others, including: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroeger, Target, and Costco.

A wide number of people have reported becoming ill from the Salomella since the U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention began tracking the outbreak late last month.

At the most recent count, the CDC says that 38 people have become ill with the outbreak strain Salmonella Bredeney across 20 states – Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

As of today, Oct.24, 2012, the CDC has broken down the demographics of the people who have gotten ill, finding the ages ranging from one to 79 years old, with 66 percent being children under 10 years old, and also 62 percent being male. So far 10 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported so far.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration explains that Salmonella is “an organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with weakened immune systems.”

“Healthy people 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, endocarditis (an inflammation of the inside lining of the heart), and arthritis,” adds the FDA.

The FDA further explains that, “The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. However, in some cases, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient requires hospitalization. Older adults, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have severe illnesses from Salmonella infections.”

The outbreak was first discovered from testing conducted by the Washington State Department of Agriculture laboratory that isolated the Salmonella strain from an open jar of Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter (sku 97111) from a case-patient’s home.

On Oct. 15, 2012, as a safety precaution, Trader Joe’s also voluntarily recalled the following products.

  • Valencia Peanut Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds (sku 98927)
  • Almond Butter with Roasted Flaxseeds (sku 94079)
  • Organic Creamy Valencia Peanut Butter (sku 81955)
  • Organic Crunchy Valencia Peanut Butter (sku 81953)
  • Organic Creamy Unsalted Valencia Peanut Butter (sku 91587)
  • Organic Crunchy Unsalted Valencia Peanut (sku 91581)
  • Think Thin Crunch Mixed Nuts (sku 96515)
  • Think Thin Crunch Chocolate Dipped Mixed Nuts (sku 95616)

The company says that all of the codes dates are included in this recall – up to and including 24SEPT13 (Sept.24, 2013).

Trader Joe’s said that in advance of the recall, all of the potentially effected products were removed from the shelves and destroyed, adding that, “Production and distribution of these items have been suspended while the FDA and the nut butter supplier continue their investigations.”

Also among those exercising safety precautions, Justin’s – the supplier of the Justin’s Honey Peanut Butter .5oz Squeeze Pack ingredient used by Starbucks in its Protein Bistro Boxes sold in the United States and Canada – has voluntarily recalled the peanut products due to the risk of Salmonella.

In the U.S., the FDA said that the Protein Bistro Boxes were sold solely in Starbucks retail stores in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and California from Sept. 8, 2012 to Oct. 4, 2012.   

Starbucks said that it removed all of the Protein Bistro Boxes “out of an abundance of caution.” No one has gotten sick so far from these products.  On Oct. 8, 2012, Starbucks returned the Protein Bistro Boxes back to the shelves without the peanut butter component.       

On Oct.15, 2012, the FDA reported finding “a DNA fingerprint” of the Salmonella strain in Sunland’s Portales, New Mexico peanut processing plant, which contaminated the above products.

Sunland has reported that it has ceased the production and distribution of all products from both its nut butter facility and its peanut processing facility.

If consumers still have any of the above products in their homes, they should discard them as a safety precaution. Also, if consumers accidentally consume any of these products and become sick, please see a doctor as a safety precaution.

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