Peanut butter recall continues

When a central peanut processing facility is identified with possible salmonella contamination, tens of thousands of products suddenly become suspect.

"The FDA has recommended that people postpone eating things that are made from peanut butter. That includes: cookies, candy, ice cream and cereals," said Dr. Jonathan Fielding, L.A. County Department of Public Health.

In L.A. County, officials identified 22 people infected with the same salmonella strain found in contaminated peanut butter. It has sickened 474 people nationwide and resulted in at least 6 deaths. Most at risk are the very young and the elderly.

One Minnesota woman, 72-year-old Shirley Almar died suddenly at her nursing home. Her daughter believes she ate contaminated peanut butter.

"I was confused and angry. It shouldn't have happened," said victim's daughter, Ginger Lorentz.

The Kellogg Company recalled 16 of its products after a package of peanut butter crackers tested positive for salmonella. General Mills also recalled two of its snack bars.

The California Department of Health is also warning people not to handle or consume peanut butter cookie dough distributed by Sweet Success Fundraising Inc. of Ontario.

Thirteen Southland schools received shipments. But if you've already baked any of these cookies, the cooking process should kill the salmonella.

"Generally you would expect that if something was fully cooked. Then it shouldn't be really a problem," said Dr. Fielding.

But peanut paste inside crackers is uncooked which can confuse consumers. That's why health officials are erring on the side of caution.

"In this case you have a lot of products that are sold on the wholesale market. Then they get turned around to make retail products. It makes it complicated," said Dr. Fielding.

Officials say most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe. Some companies, like Russell Stover Candies Inc., were quick to assure their customers their products were not involved in the investigation.



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