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Salmonella outbreak hits home

Members of six local families are sick following a recent outbreak of salmonella found in Wal-Mart’s Great Value peanut butter and the Peter Pan brand peanut butter, according to the Wood County Health Department.

The affected peanut butter has been linked to the ConAgra Foods plant in Georgia. The Food and Drug Administration has shut down this manufacturer so officials can continue their investigation of what might be the cause of the salmonella outbreak.

According to a press release from the FDA, Salmonella Tennessee is the strain type found in the peanut butter from the ConAgra plant. This is a bacterium that causes foodborne illnesses.

The FDA has found that the effected peanut butter has a product code of “2111” located on the lid of the jar. The FDA has been able to identify that Peter Pan was most likely the cause of the illnesses. But both Peter Pan and Wal-Mart’s Great Value peanut butter are at risk because they were manufactured at the same plant.

Marisa Bluestone, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said the company is taking this situation very seriously.

“Wal-Mart took immediate action and pulled it from the shelves because the safety of our customers is top priority,” Bluestone said. “Wal-Mart has also put a sales restriction on the item so it cannot be scanned at the registers and sold.”

Amy Hoops, the purchasing coordinator for the University’s Dining Services, said that they were using Peter Pan peanut butter in the dining halls.

When Dining Services found out about the salmonella outbreak they “pulled immediately from their vendors,” Hoops said.

Dining Services is now using Gordon Food Service’s peanut butter to replace Peter Pan in their facilities. They want to take precautions to make sure that they are not serving the contaminated peanut butter.

Michelle Bosserman, sophomore, was surprised when she learned about the salmonella outbreak. The Peter Pan brand of peanut butter is what she grew up eating at her home.

This salmonella outbreak has discouraged her from eating Peter Pan peanut butter until the company can prove that it is not carrying the salmonella strain.

“A couple months from now I would buy it again once they prove it is salmonella-free,” Bosserman said.

Pat Snyder, Wood County Health Department spokeswoman, said that diarrhea is a common symptom of salmonella. Other symptoms include abdominal cramps and fever.

“There are 2000 different types of salmonella strains, but the strain in the peanut butter is a very rare one,” Snyder said.

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