Kellogg says FDA confirms salmonella in crackers

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Kellogg Co. said Monday federal authorities have confirmed that salmonella was found in a single package of its peanut butter crackers, as a Midwestern grocer recalled some of its 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 said that contamination was confirmed by the Food and Drug Administration 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. At least 90 people have been hospitalized.

Also 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.

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.

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.

Officials said that most peanut butter sold in jars at supermarkets appears to be safe.

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, 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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