A national salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter has been blamed for the death of an eastern Idaho man last fall and sickening nine others in the state since October, including a North Idaho woman.
The maker of the peanut butter, sold in bulk to institutions such as schools, jails and nursing homes, has issued a nationwide recall.
The peanut butter, produced by Peanut Corp. of America based in Lynchburg, Va., is not distributed in Washington state, said Department of Health spokesman Donn Moyer.
Yet Washington has had 13 cases of salmonella since last summer – including a Spokane woman in her 30s – and officials are unsure of the contamination source. An investigation continues, Moyer said.
None of the cases can be traced to institutional food, he said.
In Idaho, however, the salmonella problems result from the same strain that has sickened more than 400 people in 43 states, health department spokeswoman Emily Simnitt said.
The outbreak has been linked to one death in Minnesota and two in Virginia that were confirmed Tuesday.
Idaho health officials declined to identify the people who were sickened or the man who died, and authorities in both states were keeping many details, including specific dates, private.
Health officials have recommended that nursing homes, schools, restaurants and others in the food industry discard the 5-pound to 50-pound containers of peanut butter sold under the brand name Parnell’s Pride and King Nut.
The peanut butter is not sold at retail grocers.
“We deeply regret that this has happened,” said Stewart Parnell, owner and president of PCA.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we are voluntarily withdrawing this product and contacting our customers. We are taking these actions with the safety of our consumers as our first priority.”
The recall was issued after an open container of King Nut peanut butter in a Minnesota nursing home was tested and found to contain salmonella.
Most people recover from salmonella without treatment, said Dr. Randall Nett, an epidemiologist with the Idaho health department.
Severe infections, however, may require hospitalizations and lead to complications for infants, the elderly and people with impaired immune systems.
Symptoms of salmonella are diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps within 12 to 72 hours of infection.
Diagnosis is usually confirmed through a culture of a stool sample. The illness normally lasts four to seven days.