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Food Poisoning in the News: Peter Pan / Great Value Peanut Butter

Testing has revealed that certain jars of Peter Pan brand and Great Value brand peanut butter are contaminated with Salmonella Tennessee (a bacterium that causes foodborne illness), according to an announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), updated on March 9, 2007. Peter Pan and Great Value brands of peanut butter are manufactured by ConAgra Foods. On March 1, the FDA announced that after extensive inspection of a ConAgra plant in Georgia, samples collected by the FDA revealed the presence of Salmonella.

Product Details and Recall Information

Peanut butter that may be contaminated with Salmonella Tennessee was sold in Peter Pan and Great Value brand jars with a product code that begins with the number "2111." The product code is located on the lid of the jar. Both Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter are manufactured by ConAgra Foods. On March 9, FDA informed consumers that ConAgra Foods has extended their recall of all Peter Pan peanut butter, and all Great Value peanut butter beginning with product code 2111, including peanut butter toppings, back to October 2004. Consumers who have questions about the recall can call ConAgra's toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 866-344-6970.

628 Reports of Illness

As of May 22, 2007, a total of 628 persons from 47 states had been infected with an outbreak strain of Salmonella linked to the consumption of varying types of Peter Pan peanut butter, based on studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health agencies. 51 patients are known to have been hospitalized. The first consumer may have become ill in August 2006. While contamination has been detected only in Peter Pan peanut butter, Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with product code 2111 is manufactured in the same plant as Peter Pan peanut butter, and is believed to be at similar risk of contamination.

Advice for Consumers

Symptoms of foodborne illness caused by Salmonella include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. In persons with poor underlying health or weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections. Individuals who have recently eaten Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with product code 2111 and have experienced any of these symptoms should contact their doctor or health care provider immediately. Any such illnesses should be reported to state or local health authorities.

Consumers who have any of the affected peanut butter in their home should discard the jars immediately.

Lawsuits Filed Over Peanut Butter Contamination

On February 20, 2007, a class action lawsuit was filed in federal court in Washington state, on behalf of people who became ill after eating Salmonella-tainted Peter Pan or Great Value peanut butter.

On February 21, the Associated Press reported that a Pennsylvania family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against ConAgra Foods, manufacturer of Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter, alleging that 76 year-old Roberta Barkay died as a result of eating peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella.

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