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Blakely plant is sole source of salmonella

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Peanut butter and apple wedges. Nutty Buddy bars. All are food items that have become part of the American diet over the years. What would happen if that very treat were directly related to a potentially deadly outbreak? Perhaps it is time to begin thinking about such a scenario. Peanut Corporation of America is at the heart of a very active and dynamic investigation by The Food and Drug Administration as they may be the source of the recent salmonella typhimurium outbreak. The FDA has notified PCA that product samples originating from its Blakely, Ga., processing plant have been tested and found positive for salmonella by laboratories in Minnesota and Connecticut. To date the national outbreak has sickened over 500 people and may be linked to seven deaths. How does this effect Barnesville? Even though PCA manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste that are distributed to food manufacturers to be used as an ingredient in many commercially produced products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream, it has little effect. The concern though is not with individual grocery items but with products distributed to and institutionally served in such settings as long-term care facilities and school cafeterias. According to Nicole James, Lamar County school nutrition director, “the USDA and state department issue warning to us at the local level. They inform of us of products that have been identified and those that have been cleared.” The notices are distributed to cafeteria managers who check the food stock as well as secretaries and other staff who cross-reference current inventories with identified suppliers. ”As of today all of our products in Lamar County schools are safe,” James said. “If anything new should arise we’ll begin the process of identifying and clearing as needed.” Peanut butter products being recalled are sold by PCA in bulk containers ranging in size from five to 1,700 pounds. The peanut paste is sold in sizes ranging from 35-pound containers to product sold by the tanker container. They are not sold directly to consumers. PCA has stopped all production at its Blakely plant as the FDA continues its investigation. Major national brands of jarred peanut butter are not affected by the recall. PCA does not sell peanut butter directly to consumers. The FDA has created a searchable list of products and brands associated with the expanded PCA recall. This list is available on the http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm and will be updated on a regular basis.

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