PB-Salmonella Sandwich Update #3

* The latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): As of Feb. 17, there are 642 confirmed cases of Salmonella infection from contaminated peanut butter, with nine related deaths.

* Last week, Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) President Stewart Parnell, who was subpoenaed to appear at a congressional hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, refused to answer questions, pleading his Fifth Amendment rights. Sketch columnist Dana Milbank shares his perspective on Mister (Tainted) Peanut.

* There are now 2,368 products on the U.S. and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recall list. Says the agency: “The large number of products and brands recalled already, and the large quantities of some products recalled, makes this one of the largest food recalls ever in the United States.”

* Readers are asking: Is jarred peanut butter from other major manufacturers safe to eat? Says food safety attorney Bill Marler, who has filed two suits against PCA: “All evidence suggests that jarred peanut butter from other major manufacturers are fine.”

* A PCA plant in Plainview, Tex., was shut down earlier this month after lab tests indicated salmonella contamination. Former employees have described plant conditions to include leaking water and bird feces. The plant was organically certified with the Texas Department of Agriculture in Nov. 2005.

* Since the congressional hearings, PCA has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the state of Virginia (its headquarters are in Lynchburg).

* Earlier this month, Post reporter Hamil Harris’s two-year-old son was poisoned by Salmonella-tainted peanut butter crackers; he has survived. This week, Hamil shares his story on The Root.

By Kim ODonnel |  February 18, 2009; 1:10 PM ET Food Safety
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