Peanut Butter Recall Expanded

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By Delthia Ricks, with additional reporting by Jennifer Sinco Kelleher

Federal health officials expanded their list of foods contaminated with salmonella-tainted peanut butter or paste yesterday, urging the public to check their pantries and trash for any one of the more than 125 products now at risk of carrying the bacteria.

Numerous well-known companies and brands - General Mills, Kellogg, Kroger Co., PetSmart and Clif Bar & Co. - have voluntarily recalled products.

Yesterday, NutriSystem Inc., a leading provider of weight-loss products, announced a voluntary recall of its 1.41-ounce peanut butter granola bars because the product contains peanut butter supplied by the Peanut Corp. of America. The company’s plant in Blakely, Ga., is the source of bulk peanut butter or peanut paste for companies that may have added tainted product to cookies, crackers, health bars, ice cream and pet food.

Though PCA is a small company, it lists more than 70 food companies as its customers. It also supplies institutions, such as nursing homes and schools, and officials investigating the outbreak have said contaminated product has reached some of the institutions.

Officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reiterated yesterday that the recalls do not affect peanut butter in jars sold to consumers by grocery outlets.

“To make it easier for consumers, FDA has created a searchable database” to help identify contaminated products, said Stephen Sundlof, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “We advise consumers not to eat products that have been recalled. Anyone who thinks they may have become ill from eating peanut butter should consult their doctors.”