The first big food scare of 2007 is upon us -- the culprit is peanut butter.
Feb. 15, one day after lovers around the nation consumed pounds of peanut butter confections, ConAgra Foods announced a "precautionary recall" of all Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butters whose lids are printed with product code 2111.
The decision to recall was made after the Centers for Disease Control linked jars of the spread labeled with the 2111 product code to a salmonella outbreak that has affected approximately 300 people throughout the country, according to the Associated Press.
ConAgra said the tainted peanut butter has been traced to a specific production center in Sylvester, Ga.The company said they are unsure of how salmonella got into the peanut butter, but they are working with the FDA to investigate the matter.
ConAgra officials said though multiple tests conducted after the recall have been negative, the company wants to maintain consumer trust. "We will take whatever additional measures are needed to ensure the safety, quality and wholesomeness of our products," said ConAgra spokesperson, Chris Kircher.
The recall has caused quite a commotion locally.
Since the announcement, Town & Country Supermarket in Salem has had numerous calls and a continual flow of concerned consumers, said Town & Country office manager, Belinda Garrett.
"We've gotten rid of all Peter Pan products in all flavors and sizes -- anything with the 2111 (product) code," she said.
Town & Country Manager Mike Burkhardt said the store disposed of a large amount of the product. "We removed a lot, about 35 cases worth," he said.
Ash Flat Wal-Mart Supercenter Manager Mike Alexander said Wal-Mart's scenario is similar. He said he was unsure of how much peanut butter was pulled from shelves; however, he did say employees were keeping busy answering questions and refunding the item.
The AP said the outbreak began in August 2006 and has affected people in 39 states. The largest number of reported cases have been in New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Tennessee and Missouri.
ConAgra said they have disposed of all peanut butter in question, and they have shut down production at their Georgia plant until the matter is resolved.
Individuals who have recently consumed Peter Pan or Great Value peanut butter that is tainted might experience fever, abdominal cramping, nausea and diarrhea.
Garrett said customers with the recalled peanut butter can bring the lids into Town & Country and make an exchange or receive a cash refund.
Individuals can also send lids to ConAgra Foods at P.O. Box 3768, Omaha, NE 68103, for a full refund of the cost of peanut butter and shipping.