The peanut-roasting process, if done correctly, usually kills any bacteria that may be present, including the common salmonella bacteria that is found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals. However, if the product is not very moist, such as the case with some peanut butters and peanut paste, salmonella can survive heating, leading to product contamination.
In February 2007, the first outbreak of salmonella contamination in peanut butter was reported in ConAgra brand’s Peter Pan peanut butter and Wal-Mart’s Great Value peanut butter in the United States. The 2007 salmonella outbreak caused an estimated 425 cases of salmonellosis, the infection associated with the salmonella bacteria.
A salmonella outbreak in January 2009 involved the Typhimurium strain of salmonella. The outbreak spurred a recall of thousands of products containing contaminated peanut paste or peanut butter made by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), based out of Blakely, Georgia. An estimated 3,918 peanut-containing products manufactured by more than 200 companies may have contained the bacteria, including King Nut peanut butter and Parnell’s Pride peanut butter. The 2009 outbreak led to almost 500 cases of sickness in 46 U.S. states and one Canadian province, with 107 hospitalizations and nine deaths reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In January 2009, the Ohio-based King Nut Companies issued a total recall of its peanut butter products, including the King Nut and Parnell’s Pride brands, citing the products as the likely source of the 2009 salmonella outbreak. King Nut products were sold in institutions only, such as hospitals, schools, universities, restaurants, and cafeterias. The products contained peanuts contaminated by salmonella from the Peanut Corp. of America processing plant.
The Peanut Corp. of America issued a warning in 2009 that salmonella contamination may have affected more than 3,918 products that contained peanut butter or peanut paste manufactured at the Blakely, Georgia processing plant. More than 200 companies had used PCA peanut material in their products.
In January 2009, Kellogg Co. recalled Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers as a precautionary measure, after PCA, its peanut paste supplier, reported salmonella contamination. The recalled products include Toasted Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Crackers, Cheese and Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers, and Peanut Butter-Chocolate Sandwich Crackers.
A type of bacteria found in the intestinal tract of humans and animals, salmonella exists in the U.S. in more than 2,500 forms. Each year, an estimated 40,000 cases of salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, are reported from contaminated foods, but many cases go unreported or undiagnosed. Symptoms of salmonellosis are usually apparent within 12 to 72 hours of ingestions, and signs of the illness include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Symptoms can last up to seven days. Salmonella contamination is often found in eggs, poultry, meat, unpasteurized milk or juice, cheese, and raw fruits and vegetables.