WASHINGTON – The company that sells Little Debbie snacks announced a recall Sunday of peanut butter crackers because of a potential link to a deadly salmonella outbreak.
The voluntary recall came one day after the government advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods with peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination.
The announcement by McKee Foods Corp. of Collegedale, Tenn., about two kinds of Little Debbie products was another in a string of voluntary recalls following the most recent guidance by health officials.
The South Bend Chocolate Co. in Indiana said Sunday it too was recalling various candies containing peanut butter from Peanut Corp. of America.
In suburban Chicago, Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products recalled several brands of peanut butter cookies it sells through Wal-Mart stores.
Peanut Corp. expanded its recall Sunday to all peanut butter and all peanut paste produced at its Blakely, Ga., plant since July 1.
McKee said it had not received any complaints about illnesses from people who ate any size peanut butter toasty sandwich crackers or peanut butter cheese sandwich crackers. The recall covers crackers produced on or after July 1.
Officials are focusing on peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at Peanut Corp.’s Georgia facility. Its peanut butter is not sold directly to consumers but distributed to institutions and food companies. But the peanut paste, made from roasted peanuts, is an ingredient in cookies, cakes and other products that people buy in the supermarket.
So far, more than 470 people have gotten sick in 43 states, and at least 90 had to be hospitalized. At least six deaths, including one in Idaho, are being blamed on the outbreak.
Salmonella is a bacteria and the most common source of food poisoning in the U.S., causing diarrhea, cramping and fever.
Also Sunday, the maker of Peter Pan peanut butter said none of its products are associated with the outbreak. Peter Pan and other peanut butter produced by ConAgra Foods Inc. were linked in 2007 to a salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 625 people in 47 states.
The company recalled all its peanut butter and eventually traced the contamination to a leaky roof and faulty sprinkler head at its Georgia plant. In a statement, ConAgra said it does not buy any ingredients from Peanut Corp.
The Kellogg Co., which listed Peanut Corp. as one of its suppliers, has recalled 16 products. McKee said Kellogg manufactured the Little Debbie crackers covered by the recall.
The Kellogg products recalled include Austin and Keebler branded peanut butter sandwich crackers, and some snack-size packs of Famous Amos peanut butter cookies and Keebler Soft Batch Homestyle peanut butter cookies.
Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, the Food and Drug Administration said Saturday.
Health officials are focusing on 30 companies out of a total of 85 that received peanut products from the Georgia plant.