Jif peanut butter recalled for link to salmonella outbreak

Howard Cohen
Mcclatchy Washington Bureau

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others have been investigating a multistate outbreak of salmonella senftenberg infections linked to a product so many of us enjoy daily.

In this case, the salmonella outbreaks are linked to certain Jif peanut butter pro­ducts produced at the J.M. Smucker Co. facility in Lexington, Kentucky, and distributed nationally, according to a recall alert posted by the FDA on Friday.

The CDC’s review of epidemiological information indicated that five people who were infected said they had eaten peanut butter and four of the five specifically reported that they ate different varieties of Jif brand peanut butter before they got sick, the CDC said.

The FDA had previously conducted a Whole Genome Sequencing analysis on a sample collected at the Lexington J.M. Smucker facility in 2010. The FDA’s recent analysis showed that the 2010 environmental sample matches the strain causing illnesses in the current outbreak.

“Epidemiologic evidence indicates that Jif brand peanut butter produced in the J.M. Smucker Company facility located in Lexington, Kentucky, is the likely cause of illnesses in this outbreak,” the FDA reported.

J.M. Smucker Company voluntarily recalled certain Jif brand peanut butter products that have lot code numbers between 1274425 and 2140425 that were manufactured in Lexington.

What is salmonella?

Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness and fever, according to the FDA. Salmonella can be spread by food handlers who do not properly wash their hands and/or the surfaces and tools they use.

Salmonella can also affect people who eat raw or undercooked foods.

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

More severe cases of sal­monellosis can include a high fever, body aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool and in some cases may be fatal.

Symptoms usually develop around 12 to 72 hours after infection from consumption or exposure to the contamination.

The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

The CDC estimates that about 450 persons in the United States die annually from acute salmonellosis.

Children 5 and younger, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to get sicker from foodborne illnesses like salmonella, according to the FDA.

What to do: Check your jars or squeezable pouches of Jif peanut butter for lot code numbers between 1274425 to 2140425 manufactured in Lexington.

The number is typically below the “Best by” date.

The Jif peanut butter products included the creamy and chunky varieties. Also those marked as natural and with honey and the Omega 3 and reduced fat varieties, too. These also include snack packs and no sugar added versions.

Where have people gotten sick?

As of the May 20 recall, 14 people nationwide have reported illnesses after consuming the product and two were hospitalized in Texas and Georgia, respectively.

States with reported illnesses, according to the CDC, are Texas, George, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, Montana, Arkansas and Washington State.

What you should do

Consumers, restaurants and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve any recalled Jif brand peanut butter that have the affected lot code numbers.

Peanut butter has a long shelf life. The Jif examples have a two-year shelf life, for instance, so consumers should check any Jif peanut butter in their home.

The FDA recommends that if you have used the recalled Jif brand peanut butters, wash and sanitize surfaces and utensils that could have touched the peanut butter. If you or someone in your household ate this peanut butter and have symptoms of salmonellosis, contact your health care provider.

You can also try and return the jars or squeezable pouches you may have bought at the point of purchase.