The recalls of processed foods containing peanut butter are one sign of the importance of reading food labels. Federal authorities have told consumers to avoid cereals, cookies and other products containing peanut butter while they investigate salmonella contamination.
The Food and Drug Administration’s offices are closed today, Inauguration Day, but the agency website says that officials have traced sources of Salmonella Typhimurium contamination to a plant owned by Peanut Corp. of America that manufactures peanut butter and peanut paste — a concentrated product consisting of ground, roasted peanuts.
Those are used as an ingredient in many commercially produced products including cakes, cookies, crackers, candies, cereal and ice cream. In addition, Peanut Corp.'s peanut butter is served in such settings as long-term care facilities and cafeterias.
On Monday, Berkeley-based Clif Bar and Co. announced a voluntary recall of Clif and Luna brand bars that contain peanut butter, adding to a list of companies that have issued recalls.
"With an abundance of caution and given the FDA's ongoing investigation of PCA, we're doing all we can to ensure consumer safety and trust," Gary Erickson, owner and founder of Clif Bar and Co., said in a statement.
FDA has created a searchable list of products and brands associated with the recall of foods. The agency says it will update the list.
Consumers who don’t find a product listed can call the company that made it or visit the company's website. The FDA says that if you can’t determine whether the food contains PCA peanut butter or paste, it recommends you not eat it.
The agency also advises people to dispose of foods in a way that will prevent anyone else from eating them.
Major national brands of jarred peanut butter are not affected, the FDA says.
Salmonella can be deadly; symptoms of illness from the bacteria include fever and diarrhea.
-- Mary MacVean