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Brian Smith
Brian Smith
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Peanut Butter is Possible Source of Salmonella Outbreak

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Officials from the state Department of Health said late Friday that the salmonella bacteria found in 30 Minnesotans believe to have been sickened by eating King Nut brand creamy peanut butter has the same genetic fingerprint as the salmonella bacteria found in 400 sick people in 42 states.

Further testing on cases outside Minnesota will be needed to confirm that the peanut butter is the source of those illnesses as well, "but we think it’s likely," said department spokesman Doug Schultz.

The peanut butter, sold in 5-pound containers to food service companies that supply schools, hospitals and other institutions, does not usually end up on supermarket shelves.

Kirk Smith, supervisor of food-borne diseases at the state Department of Health, said the clue in this outbreak was that many of the Minnesotans who became ill had eaten in institutional settings. That included nursing homes, schools and colleges, he said.

"What they had in common was this brand of peanut butter," he said. "That was enough."

The brand of peanut butter that tested positive for salmonella in Minnesota and is possibly connected to a nationwide outbreak has been voluntarily recalled by its distributor, King Nut Companies of Solon, Ohio. The five pound tubs of creamy peanut butter are not manufactured by King Nut but are made for the company by the Peanut Corporation of America in Lynchburg, Va., King Nut said in its statement. Peanut Corporation has issued its own press release pertaining to this situation

The report of peanut butter contamination comes almost two years after ConAgra recalled its Peter Pan brand peanut butter, which was eventually linked to at least 625 salmonella cases in 47 states.

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