By Cynthia Dagenais
Marist College sophomore Laura Osberg walked briskly toward the sandwich station in Marist’s main dining hall, intent on making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on white bread for her lunch one day before class. She stopped abruptly when the serving containers that hold sandwich toppings and condiments did not include peanut butter. It was nowhere to be found, but what was found in lieu of the pasty spread was a sign explaining why the peanut butter was missing.
Since early July 2008, peanut butter products have been recalled due to a salmonella outbreak. The type of bacteria reported to have contaminated the peanut butter is called Salmonella Typhimurium, which causes gastroenteritis when contracted by humans or animals. Diarrhea, fever, nausea, and vomiting are common symptoms of gastroenteritis. According to CNN.com, this type of bacteria was found in 502 in 43 of the states in the U.S. and Canada, and at least eight deaths have been linked to the outbreak.
The Food and Drug Administration had traced the outbreak to Peanut Butter Corporation of America, located in Blakely, GA. This processing plant makes peanut butter and peanut butter paste that is packaged and sold in bulk for retail purposes only. The packaging for the peanut butter ranges from five to 1,700 pounds, so once the plant is contaminated by bacteria such as salmonella, all products containing Peanut Butter Corp. brand will be contaminated as well.
The FDA also found that plant surfaces and equipment were contaminated with salmonella and other microorganisms. Roaches were discovered near the production and packaging areas, and poor ventilation throughout the plant contributed to the violations cited by the FDA.
The FDA has a list of the foods affected by the peanut butter recall, which is available on the FDA’s website.
Though she cannot make her favorite sandwiches in the cafeteria, Osberg can still enjoy her favorite Reese’s peanut butter cup chocolates.