School system peanut butter safe, officials say
By Tara DeRock Mahoney
Senior Staff Writer
Last week, federal Food and Drug Administration officials cautioned consumers to avoid peanut butter products from the Peanut Corp. of America because of concerns regarding potential salmonella poisoning.
Some products manufactured in the company’s plant in Blakely were found to contain salmonella, and investigators are working to determine whether there is a link to those products and an outbreak of salmonella poisoning in 43 states.
According to published reports, the salmonella did not affect consumer peanut butter, but mainly that produced for institutional use. The peanut butter in Morgan County schools is completely safe, however.
“I received notice from our Food Safety and Security Specialist at the [Georgia] Board of Education,” said Phyllis Martin, school nutrition director for Morgan County in a telephone interview this week. “We have not had to remove anything from our shelves…the only thing that we have on inventory right now is USDA commodity peanut butter, and it has not been affected by the recall,” said Martin.
According to the Peanut Corp. of America website, as of Sunday it is voluntarily recalling peanut butter and peanut paste products distributed to a variety of “institutions, food service industries, and private label food companies in 24 states…none of the peanut butter being recalled is sold directly to retail stores by PCA.”
All of the peanut paste in question was made on or after July 1, 2008, and only product from the Georgia facility is being recalled.
Severe and even fatal infections can be caused by the salmonella organism. Children and the elderly, as well as those with existing health problems, are particularly at risk when exposed to the organism.
Published in the January 22, 2009 edition.