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Health Investigators Match Minnesota Salmonella with Nationwide Strain

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, January 12, 2009 5:47 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Food Borne Illness, Salmonella, CDC, Public Health, CDC, Toxic Substances

A match has been made between the Minnesota peanut butter and the nationwide strain.


IMAGE SOURCE: CDC map of salmonella outbreak, 2009

A five- pound tub of creamy peanut butter in Minnesota is a genetic match between the strains of Salmonella bacteria associated with 30 illnesses in the state and nearly 400 across the country.

That was announced today by the Minnesota Departments of Agriculture and Health following a laboratory analysis. More details were forthcoming in a scheduled afternoon news conference by the Minnesota Department of Health.

Early reports identified the strain of salmonella as a common strain.

The particular jar in question was from a Minnesota nursing home that had patients fall ill. The contaminated food was found in an open container in a “large industrial kitchen,” which had also raised the possibility of cross-contamination.

King Nut, the distributor, is asking its industrial customers to stop the distribution of jars of peanut butter with codes that begin with the number “8”. Hospitals, schools, long-term care facilities, delis, cafeterias and bakeries buy the King Nut peanut butter, which is not distributed for retail sale to consumers. It is manufactured by the Peanut Corp. of America in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Two brands of the peanut butter, King Nut and Parnell’s pride, have now been recalled.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses a molecular typing system to identify salmonella species.

In Minnesota, every one of the 30 people who fell ill had eaten peanut butter, and in an “overwhelming majority” of those cases they had consumed King Nut brand, according to state Department of Health inspectors.

Minnesota continues to coordinate efforts with the CDC, as well as all other states.

Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that comes from salmonella. Most infected persons develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness can last from four days to a week and most people recover on their own without treatment. Some with severe diarrhea have to be hospitalized.

One Minnesota woman in her 70s has died.

So far, federal health officials do not know whether the Peanut Corp of America peanut butter is definitively responsible for the national outbreak, though this revelation makes that more likely. They might not know that until early this week.

The Food and Drug Administrations Stephanie Kwisnek says tests linking the peanut butter to a three-month-long outbreak have not yet been completed.

They were distributed through food service providers in Ohio, Michigan, North Dakota, Minnesota, Arizona, Idaho, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Florida.

So far California is reporting the most cases (55), followed by Ohio (53), Massachusetts (39), Minnesota (30), Michigan (20), New Jersey (13), Pennsylvania (12), Virginia (12), New York (12), and Washington state (11). Eight states are reporting no cases so far.

Martin Kanan, the president of King Nut says, “We are very sorry this happened. We are taking immediate and voluntary action because the health and safety of those who use our products is always our highest priority.”

Back in 2001, King Nut Company recalled one ounce packages of a snack mix because they might have included undeclared peanuts, an allergen. The “Express Mix” was handed out by Delta Express Air Lines. #

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