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According to Associated Press reports:

ConAgra spokeswoman Stephanie Childs said the company traced the Salmonella outbreak to three incidents in its Sylvester, Ga., plant last August. The plant’s roof leaked during a rainstorm and the sprinkler system went off twice because of a faulty sprinkler, which was repaired. The moisture from those three incidents mixed with dormant Salmonella bacteria in the plant that Childs said likely came from raw peanuts and peanut dust. She said the plant was cleaned thoroughly after the roof leak and sprinkler incidents, but somehow the Salmonella remained and came in contact with peanut butter before it was packaged. The company isn’t sure exactly how the salmonella got into the peanut butter, but Childs said it was linked to the moisture. “At some point, the Salmonella that was activated came in contact with finished peanut butter,” Childs said.

Salmonella is one of the most common enteric (intestinal) infections in the United States. Salmonellosis (the disease caused by Salmonella) is the second most common foodborne illness after Campylobacter infection. It is estimated that 1.4 million cases of salmonellosis occur each year in the U.S.; 95% of those cases are foodborne-related. Approximately 220 of each 1000 cases result in hospitalization and eight of every 1000 cases result in death. About 500 to 1,000 or 31% of all food-related deaths are caused by Salmonella infections each year. Salmonellosis is more common in the warmer months of the year.