By April R Sorrow
College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and
(April R. Sorrow is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)
Drug Administration advise consumers not to eat peanut products
made with peanut butter or peanut paste made at the Peanut
Corporation of America facility in Blakely. More than 1,300
products ranging from cookies and ice cream to trail mix and
pet food have been recalled due to a nation-wide salmonella
outbreak connected to the facility.
Elizabeth Andress, food safety specialist with University of
Georgia Cooperative Extension, offers advice on how to handle
What should I do with peanut products in my cabinets?
Hold on to unexpired foods not on the recall list until you
know more. If you don’t see a product on the recall list you
can double check by visiting the company’s Web site or calling
customer service. Many companies have disclosure statements on
the Web letting consumers know if they have not purchased
products from Peanut Corporation of America. If you have some
products that don’t show up on the recall list, and
manufacturer Web sites don’t reveal where the nuts came from,
hang on to them until we learn more. However, if you have a
family with children who may grab snacks without asking, you
may have to make different choices about whether to keep them
Where can I find a list of recalls?
Check with the FDA’s information line (888-723-3366) or CDC’s
consumer information hotline (800-232-4636) for questions. Or
go online for a complete list of all products affected:
What should I do with recalled products?
Take products back to the store where you purchased them. Most
stores are offering refunds. Some recalled products, like those
sold as fundraisers, can’t be returned to stores. You can also
contact the manufacturer and request a refund. Unlike a
salmonella scare from chicken and eggs, the peanut-related
products involved in the recall cannot be heated to kill the
bacteria. So, your only real protection is to discard the item
in question. Be sure to wash your hands after touching a
What is safe?
All major brands of peanut butter sold in consumer packages are
not affected. But, some in-store, grind-your-own peanut butter
supplies may be tainted. If eating out, ask your waiter or chef
if certain foods contain peanuts and learn the source of those
nuts. If they can’t tell you, you may want to make another
choice. The American Peanut Council has a list of safe products
on their Web site at peanutsusa.com. According to the list,
M&Ms, Reese’s, Snickers, Girl Scout Cookies and Lance crackers
are all safe to eat, as well as many other products.
Should I check all food labels?
Yes. Read product labels for peanut ingredients. Some common
foods that contain peanuts and peanut products are baked goods
such as cakes, cookies and pie and pastry crusts; breakfast
cereals, including granolas; candy, especially chocolates and
nougat; chili and pasta sauces; crackers; ethnic cuisines,
especially African, Chinese, Thai and Mexican; ice creams and
frozen yogurts; trail mix; and seasoning mixes.
What is salmonella?
Salmonella bacteria live in the intestinal tracts of humans and
other animals, including birds. Salmonella are usually
transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal
feces. Foods may also become contaminated by the hands of an
infected person who does not wash their hands after using the
bathroom. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.
What are symptoms of salmonella posioning?
If you think you’ve gotten sick from eating a contaminated
product, contact your doctor. You will usually experience
vomiting, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours
after exposure. This can last about 4 to 7 days without
treatment other than fluids to combat dehydration. Infants,
elderly individuals and people with compromised immune systems
are more likely to suffer severe infections that can spread
from intestines into the blood stream and can lead to death.
How do I treat salmonella poisoning?
Drink plenty of fluids to keep your body hydrated. People with
severe diarrhea may require rehydration with intravenous
fluids. People who have salmonellosis should not prepare food
or pour water for others until the diarrhea has cleared up.
Are there long-term consequences to a salmonella infection?
Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it
may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely
normal. A small number of people with salmonella develop pain
in their joints, irritation of the eyes and painful urination.
This is called Reiter's syndrome. It can last for months or
years, and can lead to chronic arthritis, which is difficult to
treat. Antibiotic treatment does not make a difference in
whether the person develops arthritis.