While it remains to be seen if negligence or strict liability come into play, in what is certainly a case of hazardous products, products containing peanut butter and peanut paste or sauce are continuing to disappear from store shelves, but not because consumers are buying them. More and more chains and stores are electing to participate in voluntary recall of these products, which follows a warning by the FDA for consumers to avoid peanut butter/paste products while the probe into a salmonella outbreak continues.
While the agency has reported that jars of peanut butter on the shelves seem to be safe, the health warning has focused on other products made with peanuts: crackers, cookies or ice cream.
So far the outbreak is reported to have affected 43 states and Canada, with six deaths and 470 non-fatal cases of illness from the bacterium Salmonella Typhimurium, the most common strain of salmonella.
The FDA probe is focused on foods which contain peanut products that originated in a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by Peanut Corp. of America. While several major companies have announced recalls of their products due to the use of Peanut Corp peanuts (see list at the end of this article), other major brands have announced that their products are safe, as they do not buy from Peanut Corp. This latter group includes ConAgra (whose Peter Pan brand of peanut butter caused a salmonella outbreak several years ago), J.M. Smucker, Russell Stover Candies, and ABC Bakers/Interbake Foods (makers of Girl Scout Cookies).
For its part, Peanut Corp. of America has issued a wider recall for products and lot numbers relating to peanut butter/paste products manufactured on or after July 1, 2008, at the plant.
As of 1/20/09, these are the latest recalls:
- Abbott Nutrition of Columbus, Ohio, recalled ZonePerfect Chocolate Peanut Butter bars, ZonePerfect Peanut Toffee bars and NutriPals Peanut Butter Chocolate nutrition bars. The products were sold in the United States, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore.
- Clif Bar & Co., of Berkeley, Calif., recalled Clif and Luna brand bars made with peanut butter, which are sold throughout the United States.
- Kroger Co., of Cincinnati, recalled Private Selection Peanut Butter Passion Ice Cream, sold in some but not all of their stores.
- Hy-Vee Inc., of Des Moines, which distributes in several states in the Midwest, recalled various bakery products containing peanut butter.
- McKee Foods Corp. of Collegedale, Tenn., has recalled Little Debbie Peanut Butter Toasty and Peanut Butter Cheese Sandwich Crackers.
- Meijer Inc. of Grand Rapids, Mich., is pulling back two types of crackers and two varieties of ice cream sold in five states at its stores and at gas stations.
- The South Bend Chocolate Co., of South Bend, Ind., is recalling assorted chocolates, valentine hearts, peanut butter fudge and peanut butter chocolate fudge.
- Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products Inc. of Downer’s Grove, Ill., has recalled all Food Lion and Wal-Mart Bakery brands of peanut butter cookies, peanut butter no-bake cookies and peanut butter fudge no-bake cookies. It is also recalling its nationally distributed Lofthouse brand versions of those cookies as well as Parco Foods’ Chuck’s Chunky brand of peanut butter cookies and Pastries Plus gourmet cookies.
- General Mills of Minneapolis is recalling two flavors of snack bars: Larabar Peanut Butter Cookie snack bars and JamFrakas Peanut Butter Blisscrisp snack bars.
- Safeway, of Westmont, Ill., recalled Ready Pack Eating Right Kids Apples with Peanut Butter and Orchard Valley Harvest’s Organic Bark Peanut Butter Cookies and Cream, according to the Associated Press.
- Perry’s Ice Cream, of Buffalo, N.Y., announced a voluntary recall of select ice cream products containing peanut butter sauce, which were distributed in five states.
- Food Lion, of Salisbury, N.C., with stores in the southeast and mid-Atlantic states, has removed Bake Shop peanut butter cookies from its shelves.