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Peanut Products Still Sicken Americans

CDC: New Illnesses From Recalled Salmonella-Contaminated Peanut Products
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 11, 2009 --Salmonella-contaminated peanut products are still sickening Americans, the CDC warns.

The reason: People continue to eat recalled, salmonella-contaminated products stored in their homes. Another possible problem: New, potentially contaminated products are added to the recall list almost every day.

And so, like the children's song "Found a Peanut," the outbreak just goes on and on. Most cases began after Oct. 1, 2008; the latest reported illness was on Feb. 13.

People who fell ill up to three weeks ago may not yet have been reported to the CDC. That fact, combined with the CDC's estimate that only 3% of salmonella cases usually get reported, means the outbreak likely involves far more people than the numbers reflect.

Those numbers: Nine deaths among 683 cases in 46 states (Indiana, with 10 cases, is the latest addition; one case was in Canada). Half of those infected are under age 16. More than one in four cases is under age 5.

If the true number of cases is only 3% of those reported, nearly 23,000 people may have become ill during the current outbreak.

The list of recalled, possibly contaminated brands now has passed the 3,500 mark and includes pet foods, candies, ice cream, prepackaged meals, fruit-and-vegetable products, breakfast cereals, brownies, crackers, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, salad dressings, and snack bars among other products.

Even though they were recalled early in the outbreak, the CDC says most cases still are linked to two brands of peanut butter crackers -- Kellogg's Austin and Keebler brand peanut butter crackers.

Major national brands of peanut butter sold by the jar in grocery stores are not involved in the outbreak. However, some bulk and self-grind products sold in groceries are on the list.

The CDC is urging people to check their cupboards and pantries for recalled products. If found, these products should be discarded in a manner that prevents their further use. A searchable, updated list appears on the FDA's web site.

Investigation Finds Georgia Peanut Inspections Lax

All of the thousands of products on the FDA's recall list may have contained peanuts produced by the now-bankrupt Peanut Corporation of America at plants in Georgia and Texas.

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