Not quite Neverland: Peter Pan peanut butter’s special ingredient

Recent news reveals that Peter Pan peanut butter somehow has salmonella.

How did this happen?

Wikipedia’s article on salmonellosis lists the ways that salmonella is typically spread.

The type of salmonella usually associated with infections in humans is called Non-Typhoidal Salmonella. It is usually contracted by ingesting raw or undercooked eggs, or from animals such as:

  • Chickens and cattles, if the meat is prepared incorrectly or becomes infected with the bacteria somehow.
  • Infected eggs and milk, as well as egg products, when not prepared, handled, or refrigerated correctly.
  • Reptiles such as turtles, lizards, and snakes, as they can carry the bacteria on their skin.

Another, rarer form of salmonella is called Typhoidal Salmonella. It is carried by humans only and is usually contracted through direct contact with the fecal matter of an infected person. This kind of salmonella infection can lead to typhoid fever. It therefore mainly occurs in developing and undeveloped countries that do not have appropriate systems for handling human waste.

If I remember clearly, peanut butter is supposed to be made of peanuts, often with salt and sometimes a bit of sugar. That’s it. What, exactly, is ConAgra doing to the stuff to enable salmonella to invade peanut butter jars that have been sent across the entire country?

So far, this peanut butter induced sickness has affected more than 300 people — and that’s just what has been reported! It must be more than one or two individuals not washing their hands.

What else is in your other processed foods that you may not know about?

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7 Responses to “Not quite Neverland: Peter Pan peanut butter’s special ingredient”

  1. Here’s one possible reason for how Peanut Butter, or Spinach, could have salmonella or e. coli:

    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2006/9/21/93137/9849

    Short version: lots of cows in a small space produce lots of crap, which contain salmonella, which enters the water system, which floods nearby spinach/etc. fields, thus infecting the spinach/etc.

    – Jon

  2. Birds can carry salmonella as well. Everyone knows they like to poop on things we care about; cars, photo equipment, laptops…

  3. Samat Jain says:

    Jonathan, Erik: Your comments provide excellent theories into how fresh produce may be contaminated with salmonella. It doesn’t stand for a processed food like peanut butter. External contamination would occur on peanut shells, which are discarded; peanuts are also roasted in high temperature ovens.

    There’s no sane reason for peanut butter to have salmonella; what is ConAgra doing?

  4. Samat: You’re assuming the plant where the peanut butter is made is a clean place. According to the many articles regarding the recent outbreak the bad peanut butter comes from a specific plant referred to as 2111.

  5. Robert Myers says:

    Conagra Foods has denied our request to be reimbursed $111.00 for medical expenses. As a result I am calling for a boycott of all Conagra Foods brands, which are listed on their web site.

  6. Kristina Lim says:

    According to ConAgra, the source was a leaky roof and sprinkler in the Georgia plant.

  7. CAN SOMEONE HELP ME?

    Is there an Independent Laboratory that can test my Peanut Butter for Salmonella Tennessee?

    According to the CDC many cases of salmonellosis are not diagnosed or reported, so the actual number of infections is unknown. Determining that Salmonella is the cause of the illness depends on laboratory tests that identify Salmonella in the stools of an infected person. These tests are sometimes not performed unless the laboratory is instructed specifically to look for the organism. I am looking for an alternative test.

    I reported the suspected tainted jar of Peanut Butter to government agencies at the local, state and federal level, but have not been able to get my peanut butter tested.

    Is eating the Peanut Butter the only way to get it tested for Salmonella Tennessee?

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