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    Investigation Under Way to Determine if Recalled Malt-O-Meal Cereal Is Linked to the Illnesses

    April 14, 2008 -- Cereal recalled last week may have sickened at least 23 people in 14 states.

    Malt-O-Meal voluntarily recalled its unsweetened puffed rice and puffed wheat cereals with "Best If Used By" dates ranging from April 8, 2008 (coded as "APR0808") to March 18, 2009 (coded as "MAR1809").

    The recalled cereals were distributed nationwide, marketed under the Malt-O-Meal brand and as some private-label brands, including Acme, America's Choice, Food Club, Giant, Hannaford, Jewel, Laura Lynn, Pathmark, Shaw's ShopRite, Tops, and Weis Quality.

    The recall was spurred by possible contamination with salmonella bacteria, which can cause symptoms including diarrhea, fever, nausea, and abdominal pain. Severe cases of salmonella infection can be life-threatening.

    At the time, no illness had been linked to the recalled cereal. But the FDA reports that as of Saturday, at least 23 people in 14 states had been diagnosed with salmonella infection caused by the same strain of salmonella found in the recently recalled cereal.

    The FDA and CDC are investigating the source of those patients' salmonella infection; those agencies haven't yet blamed the Malt-O-Meal cereal for the illnesses.

    The FDA's advice:

    • If you have any of the recalled cereal, throw it out. Grocery stores and other retailers should do the same.
    • See a health care provider if you develop any symptoms of salmonella infection after eating a puffed wheat or puffed rice cereal.

    In a news release, Malt-O-Meal notes that it has corrected the problem that led to the salmonella contamination and notes its ongoing food safety program.

    "We will take any additional measures necessary to preserve our customers' confidence in the safety and wholesomeness of the products we offer to consumers," Chris Neugent, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Malt-O-Meal, says in a news release.

    For more information, including a complete list of recalled Malt-O-Meal cereals, visit the company's web site.

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