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‘US Peanut Butter contamination not a threat to SVG’

‘US Peanut Butter contamination not a threat to SVG’

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J. Soso-Vincent 20.FEB.09

“It’s not a threat to St. Vincent and the Grenadines…”

This is the official word from Chief Environmental Health Officer Sydney Toney with regard to the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) peanut salmonella contamination scare that is sweeping the United States of America.{{more}}

Toney shared that only one shipment of peanut butter crackers, produced by Kellogg’s/Keeblers, had to be quarantined at the Corea’s Hazell’s Inc. warehouse. Through correspondence received from US Ambassador LaCelia Prince, the Public Health Department was notified that the Kellogg’s company had voluntarily withdrawn that particular peanut-based product from the market. However, Toney admitted that one case of the peanut butter crackers had been sold before the quarantine was imposed, although he was unsure of who the purchaser was.

Toney explained that although the product has been recalled, it is not definite that the peanut butter ingredient has been contaminated with the salmonella typhimurium bacteria. However, as a matter of precaution, Kellogg’s has advised its customers to pull the product. Toney further explained that the brands affected by the mass recall in the U.S are not popular ones sold in supermarkets in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. “We don’t think that there is a problem.”

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT, Standards Officer Velda Gumbs related that the Bureau of Standards is in the process of issuing the list of recalled products published by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). She also advised persons who receive barrels from relatives in the US to make sure that any food products included are not on the FDA’s list. If they do discover any recalled products, then it is recommended that they be immediately disposed of. The list can be obtained at www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm.

Information received from Aunt Jobe’s Supermarket, Food City and Bonadie’s Supermarket indicates that the FDA’s recall list has already been cross-referenced with items that they sell, and no offending products have been identified. CK Greaves was unable to comment at the time.

Within the region, Trinidad and Tobago and Haiti were identified as among countries that the PCA ships its produce to. In the Bahamas and Barbados, the Rich Ice Cream Company has recalled its Nutty Sundae Cones.

Following reports of illness (December 3 – January 6) caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhimurium, the FDA and the Centre for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) launched an investigation, which pinpointed the PCA’s Blakely, Georgia, processing plant as the source of the contamination. The FDA has since listed 2226 recalled peanut-based products that include brownie mixture, cake and pie products, candy, cereal, crackers, fruit and vegetables, ice cream, pet food and pre-packaged meals, amongst others.

The FDA’s Dr. Steven Sundlof warns: “If you don’t know the source of the food that contains the peanuts, then don’t eat it!” The recall has affected brands such as Shurfine, Keebler, Hershey’s, Nestle and Slimfast.

In the US, the Salmonella contamination has sickened over 575 people and caused eight deaths. The PCA, which is currently under criminal investigation, has temporarily shut down its operation in Georgia, and has been banned from conducting business with the US government.

According to the Resource Centre for Biodefense Proteomics Research website, the bacteria causes gastroenteritis in humans. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhoea, fever, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare cases, it can infiltrate the blood stream and produce more severe illnesses such as arterial infection. In healthy adults, the illnesses caused can be easily remedied with good medical treatment. However, this can prove more serious (and even fatal) in children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

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