Sunday, February 15, 2009

Some, Not All, Peanut Butter Recalled: Other Products, Too

"Survey: peanut recall known but misunderstood"
The Associated Press (February 13, 2009)

I'll get back to that article. Quite a few people know that salmonella-laced peanut products got sold. If you're reading this post, you probably already know this, but:
  • Not all peanut butter is tainted
    • No major peanut butter brands were recalled
  • Not all tainted peanut products are peanut butter
As a rule, I don't repeat a topic this often: but salmonella can be very bad for people. And, learning what's been recalled and what hasn't is pretty easy.

FDA: Latest Updated List of Recalled Peanut Products

The FDA updated its recall list earlier today:
"Peanut Butter and other Peanut Containing Products Recall List"
"Information current as of 12 PM February 15, 2009
2226 entries in list"

That's up 22 from yesterday's list of recalled products.

Using Your Browser to Search for Your Brands

Again, about the recalled products: "They're listed by category. What I do is use my browser's 'search' function to look for brands and products my family uses. Haven't found one yet. Good thing: since peanut butter is an affordable food for us."

Peanut Corporation of America's Tainted Food: Not Just Peanut Butter

Most of the news focused on bad batches of peanut paste and peanut butter from Peanut Corporation of America (supplier of maybe 1% of America's peanuts). That's what apparently killed three people here in Minnesota, and six others, but the recall is not just about peanut butter.

Peanut Corporation of America's dubious peanuts got sold to quite a few companies, which make quite a variety of products with peanuts in them, including:
  • Brownies
  • Cakes and Pies
  • Candy
  • Cereal
    • Naughty but Nice Granola Cereal
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Donuts
  • Dressing and Seasoning
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Ice Cream Products
The FDA's product categories go alphabetically, all the way up to "Topping Product Recalls."

Most Food is Safe to Eat: But Read the Label and Search the List

I've gone through the listings, and haven't found a product we use yet. I did find a couple of entries for Food Club brand foods - we use several of their products, including peanut butter. The Food Club peanut butter is okay, but their Peanut Clusters (Lot Numbers 61009, Product Code 36800-07770) made the list - and so did their Vanilla Round Top Cone. I think there are going to be some disappointed kids - and grown-ups - out there.

Seriously: reading product labels from your pantry, and searching the FDA's list with your browser isn't exactly rocket science. It didn't take me all that long (about five minutes), and I think it was worth it.

Back to the 'Misunderstood' Peanut Product Recall

"Survey: peanut recall known but misunderstood"
The Associated Press (February 13, 2009)

"ATLANTA (AP) — Most Americans know about a peanut-driven national salmonella outbreak but many are wrong about what products are involved and few have confidence in food safeguards, according to a Harvard survey released Friday.

"About 1 in 4 of those polled mistakenly think that national peanut butter brands are involved in the outbreak-spurred product recalls, but less than half are worrying about recalled snack bars, baked goods, ice cream and dry-roasted peanuts...."

I can see how people get focused on peanut butter: but if they'd read the articles, they'd know that it wasn't just about mashed peanuts.

Later in the article:

"...Fewer than 1 in 5 people have gone to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's online list of foods involved or sought other information about recalled products.

"The survey also indicated extremes of concern and apathy: About 31 percent contacted friends or relatives to make sure they know about the recall, and about 15 percent stopped eating any foods containing peanuts. But 69 percent didn't contact loved ones, and 45 percent continued to eat all peanut-containing foods...."

I'm trying to boost that 1 in 5 people using the FDA list a little. (Links are near the top of this post.)

About that "extremes of concern and apathy" - I suppose it depends a little on what's meant by "apathy." I haven't contacted loved ones (apart from the immediate family). But it's not apathy. The extended family is pretty savvy, and I'd be astonished if they didn't already know. I'd feel like I was saying something like 'you'd better be careful: gasoline isn't good to drink!'

And, this family still eats peanut butter, just like before. But I don't think we're apathetic: I checked the list, and re-check it every time there's an update.

We just seem to have our 'acceptable risk' threshold set a little higher than some folks.

Earlier posts on this topic:

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