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.
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 a Blakely, Ga., facility owned by Peanut Corp. 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 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.
Late Saturday, the Midwest supermarket chain Hy-Vee Inc. of West Des Moines, Iowa, said it was voluntarily recalling products made in its bakery departments with peanut butter because they had the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. The recall covered seven states: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and Minnesota.
Perry's Ice Cream Co., based in Akron, N.Y., said it was recalling select ice cream products containing peanut butter because of the PCA investigation. Its recall covered New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia.
Most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe, the Food and Drug Administration said Saturday.
Peanut Corp. has recalled all peanut butter produced at the Georgia plant since Aug. 8 and all peanut paste produced since Sept. 26.
Health officials are focusing on 30 companies out of a total of 85 that received peanut products from the Georgia plant.