In 2009 the President Obama said:
“At a bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter,” the president said.
“That’s what Sasha eats for lunch,” Obama said, referring to his 7-year-old daughter. “Probably three times a week. I don’t want to worry about whether she’s going to get sick as a consequence of eating her lunch.”
I wonder how he feels seeing another outbreak?
With the Salmonella Bredeney outbreak linked to Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter sickening 36 (so far) an overview of where we are now and what happened in peanut butter Salmonella outbreaks in the past might be helpful.
Last week the CDC reported that a total of 35 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney have been reported from 19 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (5), Connecticut (3), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (1), Texas (5), Virginia (1), and Washington (2).
Now the New Mexico Department of Health announced that a 5-year-old girl in Roosevelt County New Mexico has been hit with Salmonella Bredeney as a result of eating several products containing peanut butter, in a case the New Mexico Department of Health said is linked to recalled peanut butter from the Sunland, Inc. plant in Portales, New Mexico. Officials said that the child has recovered from the illness and did not need to be hospitalized.
FDA testing has found the presence of Salmonella Bredeney in raw peanuts from the Sunland peanut processing facility. Environmental samples taken from the building also show the presence of Salmonella Bredeney. Washington State investigators have also found Salmonella Bredeney from an opened jar of Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Peanut Butter collected from a case-patient’s home.
We have seen this before.
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 either Peter Pan or Great Value Peanut Butter brands with infection. Subsequently the same strain of Salmonella Tennessee was isolated from unopened jars of peanut butter and from environmental samples collected from the processing plant. The product was recalled, and new illness reports declined. Unsanitary conditions at the Sylvester, Georgia, processing plant were known about since 2004. 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.
Beginning in November 2008, CDC (Centers for Disease Control) PulseNet staff noted a small and highly dispersed, multistate cluster of Salmonella Typhimurium isolates. The outbreak consisted of two pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) defined clusters of illness. The first cluster displayed a unique primary enzyme (XbaI) restriction pattern and an uncommon secondary enzyme (BlnI) pattern. The second cluster had two closely related XbaI patterns that were very similar to the first cluster and a BlnI pattern that was indistinguishable from the first cluster. 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 dispersion 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. Peanut prices and demand for peanut-based products were little affected by this outbreak.
Hopefully, the Trader Joe’s Salmonella outbreak will be much more limited, and we may finally start learning from history instead of repeating it.