More than 125 products have been recalled in a salmonella-and-peanuts investigation that keeps getting bigger, according to federal health officials.
The list ranges from goodies like cookies and ice cream to energy bars. Even food for dogs may not be entirely safe, with a national company recalling some of its dog treats.
PetSmart has recalled seven kinds of its Grreat Choice dog biscuits. NutriSystem has issued a recall for peanut butter granola bars.
To help consumers, the Food and Drug Administration has set up on its Web site a searchable database of recalled peanut products.
Peanut butter is not normally thought of as a high-risk product for salmonella. The bacteria, a frequent source of food poisoning, is supposed to be killed off in the roasting process.
The common factor is that all the products contain peanut paste or peanut butter made at a Peanut Corp. of America plant in Blakely, Georgia.
Initially the problem appeared contained to peanut butter shipped in big tubs to institutional customers like nursing homes. But then peanut paste was implicated. Made from ground roasted peanuts, it is used as an ingredient in dozens of other products sold directly to consumers.
At least 486 people in more than 40 states have gotten sick since the outbreak began in the fall. Six have died.
Investigators found salmonella contamination at the PCA plant, which has suspended production. Salmonella has been found in a floor crack and on the floor near a wall where pallets are stored.
After roasting, peanuts can be contaminated if they somehow come into contact with tainted water, or if birds or rodents get into the plant. They can also be cross-contaminated by equipment that is used to handle raw ingredients. Raw peanuts can harbor salmonella, just like other agricultural products.
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