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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

What’s the Connection with Georgia Peanuts and Salmonella Tennessee?

We all remember that on June 1, 2007, the CDC reported that a total of 628 persons had been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella serotype Tennessee in 47 states since August 1, 2006.  Rumor has it that that number was actually in excess of 700 – perhaps 714?  Those illnesses were eventually linked to ConAgra’s Sylvester Georgia Peter Pan and Great Value Peanut Butter Plant.  Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Serotype Tennessee Infections Associated with Peanut Butter — United States, 2006—2007.

Now, As of January 29, 2009, the CDC reported that a total of 529 persons had been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium in 43 states since September 1, 2008.   The illnesses have been linked to Peanut Corporation of America’s (PCA) Blakely Georgia Peanut Butter Plant – 70 miles from Sylvester.  Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Associated with Peanut Butter and Peanut Butter–Containing Products — United States, 2008—2009.

A close reading on the recent CDC’s recent report notes an interesting connection between the 2007 outbreak and the recent one – "A possible association between the two outbreaks warrants further investigation…. The relationship of the S. Tennessee finding to the current outbreak is being investigated further."   The reason for the connection is that on January 22, Minnesota Department of Health found that a previously unopened container of King Nut peanut butter collected from the North Dakota distributor yielded Salmonella serotype Tennessee with a PFGE pattern that was indistinguishable from an outbreak strain in the multistate outbreak in 2006–2007 caused by contaminated peanut butter. ("tip o’ the pen to" Newday’s Delthia Ricks for asking the question at one of the FDA/CDC Press Conferences).

Interesting connection?   Did PCA or one of its suppliers provide peanuts or peanut products to ConAgra in 2006?  Perhaps environmental?   Perhaps somehow linked to raw peanuts grown in Georgia?   Perhaps linked to animal populations that enjoy the Southwest Georgia location?

More to come I imagine.

  • Very interesting observations/possibilities. These points are definitely worth looking into, and I wish the Food and Drug Administration would. I can’t say I’m holding out much hope for that to happen, but I’m glad folks such as you and the Newsday reporter, as well as the AP reporters who broke the Canadian story yesterday, are keeping on the heat.