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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Three Salmonella Peanut Butter Outbreaks Since 2007

715 Sickened with 129 hospitalized.  In November 2006, public health officials detected a substantial increase in reports of Salmonella Tennessee isolates. In February, 2007, a multistate, case-control study linked the consumption of Peter Pan or Great Value Peanut Butter brands with Salmonella Tennessee infections. Subsequently the same strain of Salmonella Tennessee was isolated from unopened jars of peanut butter and from environmental samples collected from the processing plant were Peter Pan or Great Value were produced. The products were recalled, and new illness reports declined.  On April 5, 2007, ConAgra announced inadvertent moisture from a leaking roof and sprinkler system could have promoted bacteria growth in the plant. Great Value brand was sold at WalMart stores.

716 sickened, 171 hospitalized and 9 dead.  Beginning in November 2008, CDC (Centers for Disease Control) PulseNet staff noted a small and highly dispersed, multistate cluster of Salmonella Typhimurium isolates.  Illnesses continued to be revealed through April 2009, when the last CDC report on the outbreak was published. Peanut butter and peanut butter containing products produced by the Peanut Corporation of America plant in Blakely, Georgia, were implicated. King Nut brand peanut butter was sold to institutional settings. Peanut paste was sold to many food companies for use as an ingredient. Implicated peanut products were sold widely throughout the USA, 23 countries and non-U.S. territories. Despite numerous product recalls, beginning in January, 2009, the wide dispersement of the peanut products, the long shelf life of these products, and the multiple labeling made it impossible to assure that all sources of these contaminated products had been totally eliminated.

35 sickened.  On September 22, 2012 the CDC announced a multistate outbreak of Salmonella serotype Bredeney linked to Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter. Collaborative efforts by local, state and federal public health and regulatory officials traced the product to Sunland, Inc. a Portales, New Mexico company. Sunland issued a recall of multiple nut butters and products made with nut butters. As of October 15, 2012 a total of 35 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney had been reported by 19 states. Among persons for whom information was available at that time, illness onset dates ranged from June 14, 2012 to September 18, 2012. Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year to 79 years, with a median age of 7 years. Sixty-three percent of ill persons were children less than 10 years old. Among 30 persons with available information 8 (27%) patients had been hospitalized. No deaths were reported. The FDA confirmed that environmental samples collected at the Sunland facility had a DNA fingerprint that was indistinguishable to the DNA fingerprint found in outbreak-associated patients.