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Published: Monday, 1/19/2009

More recalls of peanut butter products announced

ASSOCIATED PRESS

MILWAUKEE Kellogg Co. said Monday federal authorities have confirmed that salmonella was found in a single package of its peanut butter crackers, as two grocers, General Mills Corp. and Abbott Nutrition recalled some of their products because of the scare.

Kellogg had recalled 16 products last week because of the possibility of salmonella contamination.

On Monday, the company based in Battle Creek, Mich., said the Food and Drug Administration confirmed contamination in a single package of Austin Quality Foods Toasty Crackers with Peanut Butter.

Food companies and retailers have been recalling products with peanut butter in them because of suspicion of contamination amid a salmonella outbreak that has killed at least six people and sickened more than 470 others in 43 states, including Ohio. At least 90 people have been hospitalized.

Late Monday, grocer Kroger Co. recalled Private Selection Peanut Butter Passion Ice Cream sold in select stores, also because of the possibility of contamination. The Cincinnati-based company said the product was sold at stores named City Market, Fred Meyer, Fry's, King Scoopers, QFC and Smith's in 11 states, primarily in the West. The company said the ice cream was not sold in its namesake Kroger stores or any other retailers it operates. No illnesses have been reported.

Also on Monday, Abbott Nutrition recalled three products because of the possibility of salmonella contamination: ZonePerfect Chocolate Peanut Butter bars, ZonePerfect Peanut Toffee bars and NutriPals Peanut Butter Chocolate nutrition bars. The Columbus, Ohio-based company said the items were sold in the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore.

It was not immediately clear how many packages of Kellogg crackers had been tested, if more tests were being made on other products or if some had already been found not have salmonella, Kellogg spokeswoman Kris Charles said. A spokesman for the FDA said the agency was not providing any new information Monday, a federal holiday.

The government on Saturday had advised consumers to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods containing peanut butter until health officials learn more about the contamination.

Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, officials said.

Earlier Monday, Midwestern grocer and retailer Meijer Inc. said it was recalling two types of crackers and two varieties of ice cream because of the possibility of salmonella contamination: Meijer brand Cheese and Peanut Butter and Toasty Peanut Butter sandwich crackers, and Peanut Butter and Jelly and Peanut Butter Cup ice cream.

Golden Valley, Minn.-based General Mills said in a news release Monday afternoon that it was recalling two flavors of snack bars: LARABAR Peanut Butter Cookie snack bars and JamFrakas Peanut Butter Blisscrisp snack bars. The company said the recall affected 15,000 cases and no illnesses have been reported. General Mills said the recall did not affect any other products it makes.

Officials have been focusing on peanut paste and peanut butter made at Peanut Corp. of America's plant in Blakely, Ga.

On Sunday, Peanut Corp. expanded its own recall to all peanut butter and peanut paste produced at the Blakely plant since July 1.

The company's peanut butter is not sold directly to consumers but it is distributed to institutions and food companies. The peanut paste, made from roasted peanuts, is an ingredient in cookies, cakes and other products sold to consumers.

Meijer, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., said in a news release Monday it was issuing its recall because makers of its products had announced possible contamination. The products are sold in Meijer stores and gas stations in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

The recall last week by Kellogg, the world's largest cereal maker, affected products including Keebler Soft Batch Homestyle Peanut Butter Cookies, Famous Amos Peanut Butter Cookies and Keebler Cheese & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers. Charles said the recall affected more than 7 million cases of its products.

Kellogg Chief Executive David Mackay said the company would evaluate its processes "to ensure we take necessary actions to reassure consumers and rebuild confidence in these products."

Salmonella, a bacteria, is the most common cause of food poisoning in the U.S., causing diarrhea, cramping and fever.

Over the weekend, Little Debbie maker McKee Foods Corp. of Collegedale, Tenn., issued a voluntary recall of its peanut butter crackers because of possible contamination.

Other companies issuing recalls recently include Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa, Perry's Ice Cream Co. of Akron, N.Y., and the South Bend Chocolate Co. in Indiana. Ralcorp Frozen Bakery Products, a division of St. Louis-based Ralcorp, recalled several brands of peanut butter cookies it sells through Wal-Mart stores.

Some companies were quick to assure their customers their products were fine and they were not involved in the investigation. Russell Stover Candies Inc., maker of Russell Stover and Whitman's, said Monday it does not use ingredients from Peanut Corp. ConAgra Foods Inc., maker of Peter Pan peanut butter, said Saturday it was not involved in the investigation and neither the Omaha, Neb.-based company nor its suppliers use ingredients from Peanut Corp.

Peter Pan and other peanut butter produced by ConAgra were linked in 2007 to a salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 625 people in 47 states. The company traced the contamination to a leaky roof and faulty sprinkler head at its Georgia plant.



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