Saturday, June 02, 2007

Peanut Butter From One Plant Reached 47 States

Coincidentally, the CDC's latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) addressed the peanut butter-related salmonella outbreak that I discussed in my previous post.1 There were two facts of interest for me:

1. The number of known cases of infection has ballooned to over 600 (but is receding):
"As of May 22, 2007, a total of 628 persons infected with an outbreak strain of Salmonella serotype Tennessee had been reported from 47 states since August 1, 2006." (Hawaii, New Hampshire, and Utah had no reported cases.)
2. That minimum 628 cases in 47 states all derived from peanut butter manufactured in one plant.
"Illness was strongly associated with consumption of either of two brands (Peter Pan or Great Value) of peanut butter produced at the same plant."
They included a cases-by-state map:

The CDC summed up this new risk:
"This outbreak demonstrates the potential for widespread illness from a broadly distributed contaminated product, one that has not been previously implicated in a foodborne illness outbreak in the United States."
I see nothing misguided about having a food safety agency institute a regular inspection schedule, one that includes sampling (especially in light of these new risks). I see nothing adverse about requiring a manufacturer to disclose their safety records to that food safety agency. Both of these requirements are spelled out in the, as yet unpassed, Safe Food Act 2007. Had these regulations been implemented, ConAgra would have been obligated to disclose their records in 2005, an action which may have stemmed much human suffering. I'm for that.
1 MMWR, June 1, 2007, Multistate Outbreak Of Salmonella Serotype Tennessee Infections Associated With Peanut Butter

No comments: