Recent Salmonella Outbreak in Peanut Butter Leads Back to Farm Animals

By Alexandra Beane — October 12, 2012

A recent salmonella outbreak has sickened at least 35 people in 19 states, predominantly children, since June, according to USA Today. The nut producer Sunland Inc. has now recalled all products that came from its nut butter production facility in New Mexico between March 1, 2010, and Sept. 24, 2012. Although the original contamination was linked to a jar of  Trader Joe’s peanut butter, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), other companies have recalled products in response to the contamination. In what the FDA has termed “a fast-moving outbreak investigation,” samples are being taken from a Sunland production facility “that would likely harbor bacteria.”

Salmonella, which are intestinal bacteria, have traditionally been linked to animal products and are generally transmitted to humans through traces of animal feces. So why are they appearing in nut products? The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) explains it this way: “Widespread use of antibiotics in livestock operations can give rise to resistant bacteria such as salmonella. Through contact with farm workers and contaminated waste runoff, resistant bacteria can spread to humans and to other animals, as well as kitchen counters and grocery store shelves.”

According to PCRM, the number of outbreaks of salmonella and other food-borne illnesses has increased continuously since 1970, with 40 percent of them between 2000 and 2010. PCRM reminds people that “a plant-based diet reduces the number of animals on farms, thereby reducing the threat of foodborne illness.”

A full list of the recalled products is available at the FDA website.

Courtesy Photo: Trader Joe’s

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