In the last two weeks we have experienced four major food recalls – tainted chicken breast strips, foul fresh cantaloupe, bad baby food (taking “organic” a little too far) and that most beloved of lunch-time standards, peanut butter gone bad.

Earlier this week, Carolina Culinary Foods, a West Columbia, S.C., firm, announced it is voluntarily recalling approximately 52,650 pounds of fully cooked chicken breast strips that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
The six-ounce packages are labeled “OSCAR MAYER/LOUIS RICH CHICKEN BREAST STRIPS WITH RIB MEAT, GRILLED, FULLY COOKED — READY TO EAT.” Each package has the number “P-19676” inside the USDA inspection mark on front and a use-by-date of “19 Apr 2007” on back.
According to a statement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a sample of the meat tested in Georgia was contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause listeriosis, a rare but serious infection. There have been no reported cases of illness linked to the recalled chicken, the agency said. Consumers with questions about the recall should contact Kraft Consumer Response at (800) 871-7117.
In the case of the cantaloupes and peanut butter, the culprit was salmonella. The baby food was contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism. Both are life-threatening illnesses.
Dole Fresh Fruit Co. recalled roughly 6,104 cartons of imported cantaloupes from Costa Rica that were distributed to wholesalers in the eastern United States and Quebec between Feb. 5 and Feb. 8, the Associated Press reported. There were no reports of illness. The FDA is urging consumers to wash the outer surface of cantaloupes and other melons with cool tap water before slicing into them.
Dole said the recalled cantaloupes have a light green skin and orange flesh, and were distributed for sale in bulk cardboard cartons, with nine, 12 or 15 cantaloupes to a carton. The recalled cartons are dark brown with “Dole Cantaloupes” in red lettering. They have a 13-digit number on a white tag pasted to the carton; the 10th digit is a “2.”
Consumers with questions should call the store where they bought the cantaloupes or contact Dole at (800) 232-8888.
And the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers late Friday not to use certain jars of Earth’s Best Organic 2 Apple Peach Barley Wholesome Breakfast baby food because they may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum,, a life-threatening illness.
The manufacturer, Hain Celestial Group of Melville, N.Y., initiated a recall on Feb. 9 of 4,072 cases of individual jars and 38,298 variety packs, the FDA said in a prepared statement. Production and distribution of the baby food has been suspended while the FDA and the company work to determine the source of the problem.
The food, part of the firm’s “2nd Vegetables, Fruits and Blends” line intended for babies 6 months and older, was distributed through retail stores and also sold through the Earth’s Best Website, the FDA said. The agency urged consumers to throw away any jars they might have. The affected baby food involves:
Earth’s Best Organic 2 Apple Peach Barley Wholesome Breakfast (4.5 ounce jars) 23923-20223 PFGJ14NP EXP 14 SEP 08 A
Earth’s Best Organic 2 Wholesome Breakfast Variety Pack (12 pack) 23923-20295 13 SEP 08
Earth’s Best Organic 2 Apple Peach Barley (4.5 ounce jars within 12 pack) 23923-20223 PF6J14 NP EXP 14 SEP 08 A.
Consumers who have questions should contact Hain Celestial Group at 1-800-434-4246.
On February 14, 2007, FDA advised consumers not to eat any Peter Pan peanut butter purchased since May 2006 and not to eat Great Value peanut butter with a product code beginning with “2111” purchased since May 2006 because of risk of contamination with Salmonella Tennessee. Salmonella is a bacterium that causes foodborne illness, and “Tennessee” is a type of Salmonella. All Peter Pan peanut butter purchased since May 2006 is affected; only those jars of Great Value peanut butter purchased since May 2006 with a product code beginning with “2111” are affected. Although Great Value peanut butter with the specified product code has not been linked by CDC to the cases of Salmonella Tennessee infection, the product is manufactured in the same plant as Peter Pan peanut butter and, thus, is believed to be at similar risk of contamination. Great Value peanut butter made by manufacturers other than ConAgra is not affected.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified 290 people from 39 states who have gotten sick from Salmonella Tennessee, the Salmonella type associated with this outbreak. Forty six (46) patients are known to have been hospitalized and there have been no reported deaths.
The 39 states with reported illness are: Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
FDA continues to advise consumers not to eat any Peter Pan peanut butter purchased since May 2006. FDA also continues to advise consumers not to eat any Great Value peanut butter purchased since May 2006 with product codes beginning with the numbers “2111” on the jar lid. All such products should be thrown out. If consumers cannot find a number on the jar lid or are unsure, the safest thing to do is to discard the product.
Individuals who have recently eaten the affected Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter and who have experienced any symptoms of Salmonella infection should contact their health care provider immediately. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. For persons in poor health or with weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.
According to the CDC, there are an estimated 76 million cases of food-borne illness each year in the United States, the vast majority of which are mild and cause symptoms that last a day or two. Some cases are more serious, leading to 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths annually. The most severe cases tend to occur in the very old, the very young, and those with weakened immune systems.

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