View Full Version : Pet treats recalled in salmonella outbreak

January 22nd 09, 05:36 PM
(CNN) -- PetSmart is recalling seven of its Grreat Choice dog biscuit
products because they contain peanut products made by a company that has
been linked to a salmonella outbreak in 43 states and Canada, the Food and
Drug Administration said Wednesday.
peanut butter and peanut paste processed in a Georgia plant have been linked
to an outbreak of salmonella.
Dr. Stephen Sundlof, a veterinarian who is the director of the FDA's Center
for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said that the risk to animals is
minimal but that people who handle contaminated treats could come in contact
with the salmonella bacteria.
"It's especially important that children wash their hands after feeding
treats to pets" because the bacteria could be on the surface, Sundlof said.
Sundlof said dogs aren't immune to salmonella and in some cases could get
sick. They may be lethargic or get bloody diarrhea. On the other hand, they
may never show symptoms at all but could still carry the bacteria.
The outbreak of salmonella typhimurium has sickened at least 486 people,
killing six, and has been linked to products manufactured by the Peanut
Corp. of America in its Blakely, Georgia, plant
PetSmart said it "is not aware of any reported cases of illness related to
these products" but has removed the products from the shelves as a
precautionary measure.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say that of the nearly
500 people sickened, 107 have been hospitalized. The most recent death was
recorded Saturday.
The first illnesses were reported September 8, and the most recent illness
was reported January 8. The CDC still considers it an ongoing outbreak.
The CDC does not consider salmonella typhimurium any more virulent than any
other strain. The strain "is not more or less than we would expect in a
normal outbreak," said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the CDC Division
of Foodborne, Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases.
The FDA had reported that some of the samples from the Georgia plant tested
positive for salmonella. On Wednesday, it said one sample was found in a
crack of a floorboard near a bathroom and another was found on the floor
near pallets in another room. Neither sample tested positive for the
specific strain found in the sickened people, however.
Sundlof said the lack of a match makes no difference from a regulatory point
of view.
"Those salmonella are not supposed to be there. Having salmonella in the
plant is not supposed to happen, regardless if it's the same strain or not,"
he said.
Peanut butter produced by Peanut Corp. in Georgia is not sold in individual
jars in grocery stores, health officials say. However, it is sold to
institutions such as nursing homes, schools and cafeterias. Peanut Corp.
also produces peanut paste, which is commonly used in cookies, crackers,
cake, ice cream and other products, including the Grreat Choice dog
Peanut Corp. released a statement Wednesday stating that the company is
cooperating with federal and state officials and that it "will address the
agency's findings when they are shared with us."
"To date, we have nothing in writing from the agency that documents its
findings that result from its ongoing investigation and testing onsite at
our facility. We trust that at some point they will share this with us, and
PCA will respond accordingly."
Minnesota health officials were the first to link the specific strain of
salmonella that made three people ill in one nursing home to an open 5-pound
container of peanut butter. Then Connecticut health officials found the same
strain in an unopened tub of Peanut Corp.-produced peanut butter.
After interviewing 57 sick people and 399 healthy people, CDC officials
found "an association of illness and prepackaged peanut butter crackers in
general." These people had consumed specific brands of products,
particularly the Austin and Keebler brands, which are manufactured by the
Kellogg Co. and have been recalled.
CDC officials recommend that consumers who are uncertain about a product
throw out all recalled products. They also suggest avoiding any other
products they think could contain ingredients manufactured by Peanut Corp.
until they are certain they aren't being recalled.
About 125 products have been recalled. The FDA maintains a regularly updated
list at its Web site
The Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, issued a news release
calling for "President Obama to appoint a new FDA commissioner as soon as
possible to address peanut butter contamination and a growing list of other
food safety problems."