Trader Joe's salmonella scare spreads

The expanding peanut butter recall now affects products sold at Target, Whole Foods and Safeway.

By Jason Notte Oct 3, 2012 2:32PM

A salmonella outbreak that started with one brand of Trader Joe's peanut butter has led to more than 100 products being recalled at food retailers in 30 states.

The Food and Drug Administration and Centers For Disease Control discovered last month that consumers were getting sick after eating Trader Joe's Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter. After contacting the product's manufacturer, New Mexico's Sunland, the FDA determined that other nut-based products from the same manufacturing line may also have been tainted.

This comes as a bit of a shock to folks who buy organic foods specifically to avoid pesticides, toxins and situations like this. Those shoppers are among those hardest hit this time around, especially after Whole Foods Market (WFM) and Newman's Own Organics joined Trader Joe's in recalling peanut butter products. Meanwhile, organic peanut butter offerings from Fresh & Easy and Heinen's also got the hook for coming from the same sullied supply line. Even major retailers such as Target (TGT), Stop & Shop, Safeway (SWY), Sprouts and Giant Food were placed in a sticky situation by potentially harmful peanut products.

The problem doesn't affect just folks who like an organic PB&J every so often. Newman's Own is pulling peanut butter cookies, Late July Snacks is recalling sandwich crackers, Oregon Ice Cream Co. doesn't trust two brands of peanut butter ice cream, and Jer's Chocolates, Fairytale Brownies and Xan Confections are all taking peanut butter chocolate products off the table. Specialty retailers Harry and David, Gretchen Shoebox Express, Chattanooga Bakery, Justin's and Falcon Trading Company/Sunridge Farms are even removing non-peanut products like almond spread and tahini from the mix.Image: Shopping cart in supermarket - PhotoAlto, James Hardy, PhotoAlto Agency RF, Getty Images

The products in the expanded recall haven't made anyone ill recently, but 30 people in 19 states were reported ill between June 11 and Sept. 11. No one has died from those illnesses.

How can you check whether your food is affected? First, check the FDA's updated list for the product. Products with a best-used-by date between May 1, 2013, and Sept. 24, 2013, are being recalled. If that doesn't address your concerns, drop the FDA a line at 1-888-SAFE-FOOD.

If you've already dipped into a tainted product, consult your physician. At best, salmonella will give you an uncomfortable case of diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection that will go on for four to seven days without treatment. At worst, severe diarrhea may lead to hospitalization or other dangerous complications that require antibiotics.

This is particularly troublesome for children younger than 5 or older people with compromised immune systems. Though salmonellosis is treatable, the FDA estimates that approximately 400 people die each year from acute cases of it.

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Oct 4, 2012 5:24PM

And here is the part they aren't telling you... there have been no, I repeat NO samples of the peanut butter that have actually tested positive! Zero, zilch, zip, nada! The CDC THINKS it's the peanut butter based on interviews of the 30 people who had a similar type of illness. Can you tell an investigator what you ate on any given day last June? I doubt it... But the FDA doesn't want their reputation tarnished anymore than it already has, and they certainly don't want to lose funding. So instead they react on assumptions from CDC and say "oh look! we're doing our job!".

Does anyone remember the tomato recall a couple years ago? FDA shut down the entire domestic fresh tomato supply. Well guess what? The outbreak was actually linked to a pepper farm in Mexico.


While i's noble they want to do something to stop it, how many millions of dollars are going to be lost and how many jobs will be shuttered with this PB issue, WITHOUT A SINGLE SHRED OF CONCRETE PROOF????

Oct 4, 2012 9:26AM
All the tainted peanut butter,& meat for that matter should go thru the numerous port of entry s low level gamma radiation process .It sterilizes it without wasting food.They automatically do this to all food that comes in from foreign ports of call,by the container load.It even sterilizes food by killing all pathogens/bacteria that causes food poisoning,so it will have a longer shelf life/have a nice & safer food day.
Oct 4, 2012 9:22AM
This has Happened before ...The Public needs to just give up buying Peanut butter.. Different  Labels same source...POOR
Oct 3, 2012 5:56PM
Trader Joe's is an overpriced little store for people with more money than sense.
Oct 3, 2012 5:42PM
Oct 3, 2012 4:57PM
get ready for trillion dollar peanut butter. 
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