The source of the outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that has sickened at least 400 and may have contributed to one death has been identified in Minnesota as King Nut peanut butter. Peanut butter tainted with salmonella was tested by the Minnesota Health Department. The product is suspected as the source of the nation-wide illnesses, which began showing up in September 2008 and have been documented in 42 states.
“The signs started pointing to something like peanut butter with a longer shelf-life” said foodborne illness attorney Bill Marler. “It started to look a lot like the pattern that emerged in the 2006 outbreak.”
Marler’s firm, food poisoning powerhouse Marler Clark, handled the cases of many of the compensated victims of the 2006 Peter Pan/Great Value outbreak, which was traced to a Georgia plant owned by ConAgra.
“In that outbreak as well, we saw illnesses in many states over a long period of time,” continued Marler. “But I’m as surprised as the next guy that we’re seeing this again.”
Salmonella is a bacterium that causes one of the most common intestinal illnesses in the US: salmonellosis infection. It can be present in uncooked or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs, or unpasturized dairy products, as well as other foods contaminated during harvest, production, or packaging.
Symptoms can begin 6 to 72 hours from consumption, and include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, and/or vomiting. Dehydration is a concern, especially with the elderly, very young, or immune compromised.
“If you’ve consumed King Nut peanut butter and are ill, be sure to visit a doctor and get a stool culture,” advised Marler. “Put any left-over product in a plastic bag and keep it in a cool place. Your health department may want to test it.”