Peanut Butter Maker Issues Recall

ROANOKE, Va. (AP) - A peanut butter maker that sells bulk
supplies to institutions issued a nationwide recall as officials on
Wednesday reported two more deaths associated with a salmonella
outbreak. Its client Kellogg Co. later asked stores to stop selling
a variety of peanut butter crackers.
Lynchburg-based Peanut Corp. of America issued the recall late
Tuesday for 21 lots of peanut butter made since July 1 at its plant
in Blakely, Ga., because of possible salmonella contamination. The
company supplies peanut paste to Kellogg, which on Wednesday asked
stores nationwide to pull peanut butter crackers sold under the
Austin and Keebler brands.
Kellogg, based in Battle Creek, Mich., said it hasn't found
problems or received complaints about those products.
"We are taking these voluntary actions out of an abundance of
caution," Kellogg CEO David Mackay said in a release.
The national salmonella outbreak has sickened more than 430
people in 43 states. Health officials in Minnesota and Idaho
reported Wednesday that one death in each state had been linked to
the outbreak. Another death in Minnesota and two in Virginia were
confirmed Tuesday.
All five were adults who had salmonella when they died, though
their causes of death haven't been determined. The U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention said the salmonella outbreak may
have contributed.
Peanut Corp. of America said none of the peanut butter being
recalled is sold through retail stores. Its peanut butter is made
for distribution to institutions, food service industries and
private label food companies. The company said the peanut butter is
sold under the brand name Parnell's Pride and by the King Nut Co.
as King Nut.
However, the products being pulled from shelves by Kellogg are
sold directly to consumers. They include Austin and Keebler toasted
peanut butter sandwich crackers, peanut butter and jelly sandwich
crackers, cheese and peanut butter sandwich crackers, and peanut
butter-chocolate sandwich crackers. Customers and stores are asked
to hold onto the Kellogg products, but not eat them, until an
investigation is complete.
FDA compliance officer Sandra Williams said Kellogg's move is
known as a stop-sale order and isn't as serious as a recall.
Neither Williams nor a Kellogg spokesman could say how many units
were involved, but Williams said, "It's a very large volume."
Kellogg spokesman Darryl Riley said federal investigators
visited company facilities this week.
The Peanut Corp. recall was issued after an open container of
King Nut peanut butter in a long-term care facility in Minnesota
was found to contain a strain of salmonella. Health officials had
recommended nursing homes, hospitals, schools, universities and
restaurants discard containers of peanut butter linked to the
outbreak. The peanut butter was in containers between 5 and 50
"We deeply regret that this has happened," Stewart Parnell,
owner and president of Peanut Corp. of America, said in a news
release. "Out of an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily
withdrawing this produce and contacting our customers."
Customers were notified by phone and in writing, the company
Kellogg said it gets peanut paste from several suppliers.
The Georgia Department of Agriculture so far has found nothing
in samples tested from Peanut Corp.'s Blakely plant, spokesman Arty
Schronce said Wednesday, but added the testing process can take
several days.
Authorities have declined to identify the five people who died.
But Virginia Health Department spokesman Phil Giaramita said
Wednesday the cases there involved an adult over 65 in southwestern
Virginia and a younger adult in the northwestern part of the state.
Health officials said a man in his 70s who had numerous
underlying health conditions was the second person to die in
Minnesota, where 13 people have been hospitalized. The Idaho death
occurred in the fall.
The CDC said it appears most people became ill between Sept. 3
and Dec. 31 but mainly after Oct. 1.
King Nut recalled the peanut butter over the weekend in the
seven states where it distributed it. King Nut president Martin
Kanan had said he didn't want to wait for Peanut Corp. to act. He
did not immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment on
the wider recall.
Besides the Georgia plant, Peanut Corp. of America has plants in
Suffolk, Va., and Plainview, Texas.
Georgia agriculture officials have one to three inspectors at
the Blakely plant and more people working on the case at the
department's Atlanta headquarters, Schronce said. He said peanut
butter plants in the state are inspected once or twice a year and
more frequently if problems are found.

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