September 19, 2014

Salmonella Bredeney Outbreak Associated with Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter

The CDC has issued a report on Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter because it may be contaminated with Salmonella. The product has been removed from store shelves. It was distributed nationwide. The product is in 16 ounce plastic jars; all code dates are included in the recall. If you have purchased this product, do not eat it; return it to the store for a refund or throw it out. For more questions, call Trader Joe’s Customer Relations at 626-599-3817.

So far, 29 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney have been reported to PulseNet from 18 states. Four people have been hospitalized; there have been no deaths.

The CDC does not mention the states where the outbreak has occurred. They have only posted an epidemiological curve of the outbreak. States that are reporting cases include Massachusetts (3), Pennsylvania (2), New York (1), Rhode Island (1), Maryland (1) and Minnesota (1).

Illness onset dates range from June 11, 2012 to September 2, 2012. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 77 years, with a median age of 7 years. Seventy-six percent of the ill persons are under the age of 18, and 64% of ill persons are male. Illnesses that occurred after August 29, 2012 may not yet be reported because of the lag time between an illness onset and reporting.

Public health officials are investigating to see if any other foods sold primarily at Trader Joe’s grocery stores may be a source in this outbreak. The FDA has issued a recall, but states in that announcement that no illnesses are linked to the peanut butter. The recall notice says that production and distribution of the peanut butter has been suspended while the FDA and the Valencia Peanut Butter supplier investigate.

The CDC stated that the PFGE pattern of this particular bacteria is quite rare and has only caused five to eight cases per year. Salmonella illnesses usually begin six to 72 hours after exposure. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever chills, headache, muscle pains, and blood in the stool. If you have eaten peanut butter or any other food purchased at Trader Joe’s and have experienced these symptoms, see your healthcare provider immediately.

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We don’t know where the peanut butter was made, if it was a store brand, or made by another party. All of the interviewed ill persons have indicated that they shopped at Trader Joe’s locations across the country. And twelve of the 14 ill persons (86%) reported eating Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt the week before becoming ill. The product is also sold on the internet.

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