Salmonella-Tainted Peanut Butter Illnesses Now At 370

CDC says 42 states have confirmed cases; 60 people have been hospitalized, but no confirmed deaths.

ATLANTA (AP) – The number of illnesses resulting from salmonella contamination in ConAgra Food Inc.'s peanut butter has reached 370 from the 329 cases that were confirmed last week, federal health officials said Wednesday.

Forty-two states have confirmed cases and 60 people have been hospitalized, but there have been no confirmed deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Feb. 14, ConAgra Foods recalled all Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter made at its Sylvester, Ga., plant after federal health officials linked the product to an outbreak of an unusual type of salmonella that has sickened people since August 2006.

The recall has been widely reported and and it is likely that additional cases are due to raised awareness and not recent illnesses, CDC spokesman Dave Daigle said Tuesday.

Government and industry officials believe the contamination may have been caused by dirty jars or equipment. Peanuts are usually heated to high, germ-killing temperatures during the manufacturing process.

The only known salmonella outbreak in peanut butter, in Australia during the mid-1990s, was blamed on unsanitary plant conditions.

Consumers are being asked to toss out jars of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter with a product code on the lid beginning with ''2111.'' The jars or their lids can be returned to the store where they were purchased for a refund.


More in Operations