Move over March Madness, there’s a new reason to celebrate this month - March 1st is National Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day.
According to Skippy peanut butter, Americans eat nearly 3 pounds of the stuff per person each year. At about 500 million pounds, that would be enough to cover the floor of the Grand Canyon. And an average American child will consume 1,500 peanut butter sandwiches by their high school graduation.
Of course, before you break out those party hats, be on the look out for a recent uninvited guest: Salmonella.
To date, 370 people in the U.S. have fallen ill due to ConAgra peanut butter contaminated with Salmonella and the company has recalled the product in over 60 countries. No word yet on how the peanut butter was contaminated.
The affected jars of peanut butter are only produced at one ConAgra plant in Sylvester, Georgia, and production has been shut down because of the recall.
The Sylvester plant has approximately 100 employees and only produces peanut butter. Since production has halted, Stephanie Childs, Director of Communications at ConAgra, said that the employees at the Sylvester plant have been reassigned to non-production related tasks, such as training and maintenance.
It is unclear how the peanut butter became contaminated and the CDC and FDA are investigating. Childs declined to speculate on possible contaminate points, citing the ongoing investigation.
“We are truly sorry for any harm that our peanut butter products may have caused,” said Gary Rodkin, CEO of ConAgra. “Our immediate recall of 100 percent of our product was taken with the assumption that a link could be found between our peanut butter and the reported cases of salmonella. We are committed to taking all reasonable steps to remedy the situation.”
For those peanut butter lovers who want to enjoy their favorite sandwich spread without the possibility of a trip to the hospital, here’s a recipe to make your own peanut butter.
Oh, and mark your calendars - April 2nd is National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day.