Peanut Corporation of America in the News Again – New England Journal of Medicine reviews the tragedy

The New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) published today on the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that occurred between September 1, 2008, and April 20, 2009. NEJM found that among 714 case patients identified in 46 states, 166 (23%) were hospitalized and 9 (1%) died. NEJM also noted that because many persons with salmonellosis do not seek medical care or are not tested, it is estimated that 16 times as many cases of illness occurred than were reported. That would be – 11,424 sickened.

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Using the data from the FDA, Congress, FBI and the U.S. Attorney, NEJM reported that Salmonella Typhimurium had been isolated from peanut paste at the Georgia PCA facility during routine product testing in September 2008. The study laboratory retested a sample of the peanut paste but was unable to isolate Salmonella Typhimurium again. This peanut paste lot was shipped from the Georgia PCA facility to other states. The lots of roasted peanuts used to make this peanut paste were also used to make multiple lots of peanut butter. During routine product testing at the Georgia PCA facility from July 2007 through January 2008, salmonella of several serotypes had been isolated from a variety of peanut products; all positive products were retested, found to be negative for salmonella, and distributed.

A total of 3918 peanut butter–containing products were recalled between January 10 and April 29, 2009. This outbreak resulted in one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history and an estimated $1 billion loss in peanut sales.  The report di not account for the costs of recalls, bankruptcies, illnesses and deaths.

Either way, those are a lot of illnesses and a lot of money – wasted.

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Sort of sounds familiar to this current Cargill recall? Also for a product like peanutbutter crackers (the product that sent my son to the hospital for a week) I believe the factor would probably be even more than x 16 that went unreported as millions of households across America would have had this product and similar. We also know that pets were involved as I recall a dog dying from being fed peanutbutter crackers. Further, I believe the owner of the company still has not faced any charges. Where is justice? One would hope that the food industry as a whole would have all come together to ask for reform. Some producers did (and many food safety organizations), and the FSMA was passed. but many resisted (particularily small manufacturers who have as much to lose, if not more). Some Senators gravely held up the passing of the bill saying that the American food supply was over 99% safe. I still hear that being said. I’m sure Germany would have thought the same thing until their last recall killed so many people. . .

  • Randy Napier

    I lost my Mother to this Salmonella tainted peanut butter that was knowingly (proven) shipped and caused the largest food recall in history. I am sickened to see all the money now spent on frivolous statistics instead of using it to put the man (Stewart Parnell) responsible in prison where he belongs. I guess I must face the fact that we, American tax payers, are insignificant and our rights do not matter. Only the rights of the criminals carry any weight. What about my Mothers rights?

  • Sam

    Randy, it truly is sad that the only people who prevail are criminals and the wealthy. The very worst offenders are the crimnally wealthy such as that dirtbag Parnell. Your mother is (in my humble opinion) another martyr in the war against the middle class. Let’s all keep her untimely passing in mind as we fight for the economic and social well being of this once great nation.