February 25, 2009

666 People Ill From Salmonella Outbreak

Health officials said on Tuesday that an outbreak of salmonella food poisoning traced to peanut products has sickened 666 people and is continuing despite one of the biggest food recalls in U.S. history, Reuters reported.

However, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that the outbreak of salmonella is still only linked to nine deaths, so far.

The CDC statement said: "To date, 19 clusters of infections in five states have been reported in schools and other institutions, such as long-term care facilities and hospitals. King Nut brand peanut butter was present in all facilities."

The Peanut Corporation of America, which produces the King Nut brand, has gone into bankruptcy and closed two plants in Georgia and Texas after inspectors traced the salmonella outbreaks to them.

The peanut butter was used in ingredients for a wide range of products from peanut butter crackers to dog treats and birdseed.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said more than 2,100 products in 17 categories to date have been voluntarily recalled by more than 200 companies, and the list is growing.

Earlier this week, FBI officials in Atlanta and Virginia said they had joined the FDA in a criminal investigation of the company.

Congress has issued plans to reform the FDA's food inspection program.


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