Peanut peeved

Local man believes he contracted peanut butter salmonella

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ConAgra Foods has recalled all Peter Pan brand peanut butter with product numbers starting with "2111." Consumers are encouraged to destroy the product or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.

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Steamboat resident Chris Ward became sick after consuming Peter Pan brand peanut butter that was tainted with Salmonella and missed three weeks of work as a result. The brand's parent company, ConAgra Foods, has since recalled all Peter Pan peanut butter with product codes beginning in "2111".

— Steamboat Springs resident Chris Ward believes he contracted salmonella from a jar of peanut butter he purchased in January.

Ward is the owner of Steamboat Foliage and Flowers.

The Food and Drug Administration began recalling all jars of Peter Pan and Great Value brand peanut butter Feb. 15 due to the risk of the food borne illness salmonella. But Ironically, Ward said, he often eats peanut butter sandwiches to soothe an upset stomach. He ate frequently from his jar of Peter Pan creamy peanut butter.

"I'm amazed it happened to me in our small town," he said. "After I read the first story that ran in the newspaper, I went to the cupboard and looked for the numbers (indicating the tainted peanut butter) and said, 'Man, that's why I've been sick.'"

Ward suffered from intense abdominal cramping, diarrhea and vomiting for three weeks. Ward did not see a physician, nor did he report his case of salmonella to local or state health officials.

Meg Montgomery, infection prevention coordinator for Yampa Valley Medical Center, said she was unaware of any local cases of salmonella that resulted from the peanut butter recall, though it is not uncommon for everyday foods, like peanut butter, to contain the bacteria.

"If people haven't gotten word about the recall and still have (contaminated peanut butter) in their cupboards, we could be seeing cases of salmonella for a long time because peanut butter stays good for a long time," Montgomery said.

Salmonella typically is associated with undercooked meats and dairy products, such as chicken and eggs, but can appear in other foods through cross-contamination, Montgomery said.

Symptoms of salmonella, which include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, usually appear within 12 to 72 after ingesting a contaminated food. Cases of salmonella range from very mild to severe. It is largely untreatable, she said.

Beth Watson, a public health nurse at Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, was not aware of any salmonella cases either, and encouraged those suffering from salmonella to not prepare other foods.

"If you had symptoms of salmonella, you should refrain from preparing foods for other people to prevent spreading (salmonella)," she said.

Both brands of the contaminated peanut butter were manufactured by ConAgra in Georgia. Consumers are advised to check all varieties of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter brands for a product code "2111" on the lid. ConAgra advises consumers to discard remaining peanut butter jars or to take the peanut butter to grocery stores for a refund.

Safeway and City Market officials said they were not aware of any contaminated peanut butter jars that were sold, but took the peanut butter off the shelves and destroyed them.

Ward said he couldn't remember where he bought the peanut butter.

On Friday, the FDA confirmed that 329 people across the U.S. had contracted salmonella from the contaminated peanut butters and that 51 of those people were hospitalized. The outbreak reportedly began in August 2006.

- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234

or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

id04sp 7 years, 5 months ago

Salmonella was confirmed in the opened jars obtained from infected persons.

However, I have not seen any report that salmonella has been found in any of the previously unopened jars tested by the CDC or Con Agra.

"Epidemiological" studies are statistical, meaning that they do not confirm the presence of bacteria, but only confirm that people with the illness ate the same food.

The CDC's report which confirmed salmonella in the opened jars does not place fault on the Con Agra plant or the workers. No salmonella has been found in the plant or in any of the jars which the plant tests daily. It's entirely possible that the bacteria got into the peanut butter AFTER the jars were opened by the consumers.

The thing the CDC has not said is that the likely source of contamination is something that came into contact with the outside of the jars during shipping or storage. The lesson here is to wash containers (jars with twist off lids) that don't require refrigeration when you get them home from the supermarket to remove anything that may be on the outside. A cap-full of bleach in a quart of water kept in a spray bottle is a great way to disinfect kitchen counter tops and food containers.

My wife got food poisoning at a fast-food place a few weeks ago. She ate Peter Pan peanut butter bearing the "2111" lot number on crackers to help calm her stomach. We've all eaten peanut butter out of that same jar with no ill effects.

A pallet of frozen chicken allowed to thaw in a distribution center where the peanut butter was trans-shipped is a far more likely source of contamination. The statistical correlation found by the CDC is more likely a result of shipping chicken (also produced in large quantities in the same part of Georgia) and peanut butter through the same facility at roughly the same time.

The FDA and Department of Agriculture spend a lot of time and money making sure the food on the inside of the container is safe. Nobody is checking up on the way non-refrigerated containers are handled during shipping and storage before they are purched by the consumer. It's a fact that a lot of stuff we consume is being handled by minimum-wage workers, many of whom are illegal immigrants who don't use the same care we do regarding hygiene. It's a common practice "south of the border" to disinfect all fresh food with a bleach solution because of the danger of contamination from handling.

So, welcome to America, and wash your ####### hands!

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cc77 7 years, 5 months ago

Ahh, too bad. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

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upstream 7 years, 5 months ago

This is News? The Steamboat Enquirer once again perpetuates rumor and innuendo...This guy thinks (operative word, thinks) he contracted salmonella from his jar of peanut butter. Was the peanut butter tested? Was he tested? Anyone with any science background is hearing fingernails on a chalkboard. Oh, and I'm sure idO4sp did not mean to suggest earning the minimum wage and/or having questionable immigration status predisposes one to poor hygeine...right (-; ? Love to get a look at the science that supports that rascist/ classist rhetoric. UGH.

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id04sp 7 years, 5 months ago

Up,

Uh, yeah, that's exactly what I'm saying. Why do you think there are so many hepatitis outbreaks in restaurants where illegals work? It's because they are not careful about their hygiene and because they have immunity to diseases which are endemic in their homeland whereas the rest of us do not. That's why we get sick when we drink the water south of the border and the natives don't.

It's well-known that the polio epidemics of the 40s and 50s were due to the fact that closed sewer systems prevented infants from being exposed to the polio virus when they were capable of developing a natural immunity. When exposed to the virus at a later time, they became ill with polio.

People who are exposed to diseases as infants in third-world countries develop immunities that the rest of us don't have a chance to obtain through environmental exposure when we are young enough for it to work.

Racist? Think what you want. That doesn't mean it's not true.

Standards of hygiene are cultural. They also vary by socio-economic class. Depression and other mental disorders are also evidenced by poor hygiene. Doesn't it stand to reason that somebody with poor hygiene would be more likely to handle food without washing their hands? That's what I've seen. What's it like on your planet?

If you look at the process analytically, imagine taking down a jar of peanut butter to make a sandwich. If there's salmonella on the outside of the jar, and you handle the jar and then handle the bread while making the sandwich, isn't that a likely route to exposure?

I happen to know that the whole Con Agra plant where the peanut butter was made has been shut down. Nobody has found salmonella there yet. Nevertheless, there have been hundreds of lawsuits filed already. The result is that a lot of good hard-working people are going to lose their jobs, and maybe their homes, over something that has not yet been shown to be their fault.

Hey, how about this one? Maybe a secret agent from Jif contaminated the Con Agra peanut butter jars to increase sales and stock prices. Yeah, that seems like a more logical scenario . . .

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fish 7 years, 5 months ago

I actually had one of those jars in my cubboard when the recall occured. The jar was basically empty except for maybe enough to do one more sandwich. No one in my family became ill. I don't know whether it is because we washed our hands, or just got lucky, but I also feel that the contamination came from somewhere else. And I will still buy Peter Pan when they get it back it the store. Maybe Chris is just trying to join one of those class action suits.

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