Fri Jun 1 2007
OMAHA, Neb. - The number of people sickened since August by peanut butter tainted with salmonella has grown by more than 200, according to a new federal report. The outbreak, first reported in February, now includes 628 cases in 47 states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
It is the first update on the number of cases linked to the outbreak since early March, when officials said 425 cases had been confirmed in 44 states.
ConAgra Foods Inc. recalled all its peanut butter after government investigators linked the bacteria outbreak to the Omaha-based company's Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter.
The CDC said the number of new salmonella cases dropped substantially after the peanut butter was recalled.
The states with no illnesses reported are Hawaii, New Hampshire and Utah, the CDC said.
Wal-Mart has continued selling Great Value peanut butter — its store brand — that is made by different suppliers, but Peter Pan has yet to return to stores.
ConAgra plans to reintroduce Peter Pan in July. Initially, another company will produce the peanut butter because it doesn't expect to be able to resume production at its Sylvester, Ga., plant until sometime in August, after renovations.
ConAgra officials have said they believe moisture in the plant likely helped bacteria to grow and later infect the finished product.
Consumers who had jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter with a product code on the lid beginning with "2111" were urged to throw out the peanut butter. The jars or their lids can be returned to the store where they were purchased for a refund.