Oct. 10, 2007 -- Check your freezer for Banquet or generic store-brand turkey or chicken not-ready-to-eat pot pies with "P-9" printed on the side of the package.
If you have any those pot pie products, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says to throw them out or don't eat them as health officials investigate a multi-state salmonella outbreak.
Salmonella bacteria can cause diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. Most people recover within a week without treatment, but serious complications can occur. Infants, elders, and people with weak immune systems are more likely to become severely ill from salmonella.
The USDA, CDC, and state health officials are investigating at least 139 cases of salmonella in 30 states that were reported this year and that may be related to the pot pies. At least 20 people have been hospitalized in connection with the outbreak, according to the CDC.
ConAgra, the manufacturer of the pot pies, is cooperating with the investigation. The company reminds consumers to cook the pot pies thoroughly as instructed on the packages.
"The cooking instructions for these products are specifically designed to eliminate the presence of common pathogens found in many uncooked products," ConAgra states in a news release.
So far, health officials haven't proven that the pot pies caused the salmonella cases. But based on interviews comparing foods eaten by patients and people without salmonella, the CDC calls the pot pies "the likely source" of the illness.
It's not clear from the USDA's report whether the people who ate those pot pies and fell ill cooked the pot pies thoroughly. The Missouri plant where the pot pies were made has voluntarily halted its operations because of the reported illnesses.
For more information, including details on refunds for the pot pies, call ConAgra at (866) 484-8671 or contact ConAgra online at www.conagrafoods.com/contactus.