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Prairie Fare: Latest Food Recall Prompts Food for Thought

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Julie Garden-Robinson Julie Garden-Robinson
As of Feb. 14, 288 cases of salmonellosis in 39 states were linked to contaminated peanut butter.

By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

My kids could practically live on peanut butter, if I let them. They spread it on bread, crackers and fruit. Sometimes they forgo the “carrier” and just eat it by the spoonful.

Needless to say, the latest foodborne illness outbreak gave me cause for concern. I promptly checked what brands of peanut butter I had on hand to see if I had any of the products that were recalled nationwide.

The Food and Drug Administration posted a recall to consumers not to eat Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter with the product code “2111” listed on the jar lid. As of Feb. 14, 288 cases of salmonellosis in 39 states were linked to the contaminated peanut butter. ConAgra, the manufacturer, is destroying all affected products in its possession. ConAgra won’t resume production until it determines and solves the problem.

Each year, about 40,000 people in the U.S. contract salmonellosis, the bacterial disease caused by salmonella. Of those, 600 die. Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea and stomach pain. Children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most likely to become ill. Some researchers link the development of reactive arthritis to salmonellosis.

Although raw eggs, poultry and meat frequently are linked with salmonellosis, other foods easily can become contaminated by mishandling these foods. Cross-contamination on cutting boards and countertops and undercooking usually cause the problems.

Meat- and seafood-based pet treats have been cited as the sources of nine cases of salmonellosis in humans, too. In one case, an 81-year-old woman fed treats to her dog. Although the dog did not become ill, she was hospitalized due to diarrhea, fever and vomiting. The dog may have carried the illness or she may have contracted it by touching the contaminated treats.

Sometimes, food isn’t to blame for salmonellosis. Pets can carry bacteria in their feces and on their bodies and transfer it to humans without appearing sick themselves. Reptiles (especially iguanas, snakes and turtles), ducklings and chicks have been linked to cases of salmonellosis in humans. Dogs, cats, horses and farm animals can transfer the organism to humans, too.

Always wash your hands after touching animals or feeding them treats. Use plenty of running water and soap. If you don’t have running water readily available, an alcohol-based sanitizer used appropriately will kill bacteria.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips to help prevent getting salmonellosis:

  • Cook poultry, ground beef and eggs thoroughly before eating. Do not eat or drink foods containing raw eggs or raw unpasteurized milk.
  • Wash hands, kitchen work surfaces and utensils with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
  • Be particularly careful with foods prepared for infants, the elderly and the immunocompromised.
  • Wash hands with soap after handling reptiles or birds, or after contact with pet feces.
  • Avoid direct or even indirect contact between reptiles (turtles, iguanas, other lizards or snakes) and infants or immunocompromised people.
  • Don’t work with raw poultry or meat and an infant (e.g., feed, change diaper) at the same time.
  • Mother’s milk is the safest food for young infants. Breast-feeding prevents salmonellosis and many other health problems.

Here’s a recipe for granola bars from the USDA’s Recipe Finder at http://recipefinder.nal.usda.gov/.

Granola Bars

1 c. honey

1 c. peanut butter

3 1/2 c. rolled oats

1/2 c. raisins

1/2 c. grated carrots

1/2 c. coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel and grate the carrots. Put the honey and peanut butter in a large saucepan. Cook on low heat until they melt. Remove the pan from the heat. Add oatmeal, raisins, carrots and coconut to the saucepan. Stir well and let it cool until you can safely touch it with your hands. Put the mix in the baking pan. Press the mix firmly in to the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Cut into 24 bars.

Makes 24 servings. Each serving has 160 calories, 6 grams (g) of fat, 25 g of carbohydrate and 2 g of fiber.


NDSU Agriculture Communication

Source:Julie Garden-Robinson, (701) 231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu
Editor:Rich Mattern, (701) 231-6136, richard.mattern@ndsu.edu
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