FDA Confirms Salmonella Outbreak Strain At Sunland Facility

FDA announced today (October 13th) that it has confirmed a genetic match between the strain of Salmonella Bredeney that has sickened 35 persons and the strain that the agency recovered from Sunland Inc.‘s nut butter production environment in Portales, New Mexico.

In addition, FDA recovered Salmonella from the environment of a separate building where peanuts are processed, and from raw peanuts sampled in that building. Yesterday, Sunland expanded its previous recalls yet again to include raw and roasted shelled and in-shell peanuts. The company has ceased production and distribution of all products from both its nut butter facility and its peanut processing facility.

CDC first reported the outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney illnesses on September 22nd. At that time, epidemiological evidence pointed to Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt as the likely source of the outbreak. Subsequent tests carried out by the Washington State Department of Agriculture recovered the outbreak strain from an opened jar of Trader Joe’s Valencia Cream Peanut Butter collected from the home of an outbreak victim.Trader Joe’s peanut and other nut butter products are manufactured by Sunland, Inc.

As of October 5th, 35 outbreak illnesses were confirmed in 19 states; eight people hospitalized; no deaths. Illness onset dates range from June 14, 2012 to September 18, 2012. Illnesses were reported by Arizona (1), California (5), Connecticut (3), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (1), Texas (5), Virginia (1), and Washington (2).

Here’s what FDA had to say today:

The FDA announced that on October 12, Sunland Inc. expanded its ongoing recall to include raw and roasted shelled and in-shell peanuts sold in quantities from 2 ounces to 50 pounds which are within their current shelf life or have no stated expiration date.

Since late September, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health officials have been investigating a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney infections linked to a peanut butter made by Sunland Inc. As part of the continuing investigation, the FDA has been inspecting the Sunland Inc. production facilities, including a building in which peanuts are processed and a separate building in which nut butters are made. FDA testing has found the presence of Salmonella in raw peanuts from the peanut processing facility. Environmental samples taken from this building also show the presence of Salmonella. Environmental samples are samples taken from various surfaces in the production or manufacturing facility that would likely harbor bacteria.

Additionally, FDA analysis has confirmed that environmental samples showing the presence of Salmonella in Sunland’s nut butter facility have a DNA fingerprint that is the same as the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney.

Sunland Inc. reports that it has ceased the production and distribution of all products from both its nut butter facility and its peanut processing facility.

Sunland raw and roasted peanuts available to retail customers are distributed primarily under the company’s own label and were distributed primarily to produce houses and nationally to numerous large supermarket, grocery and retail chains. The products also were available for purchase on the internet.

A list of all products being recalled by Sunland Inc. can be found in the company’s recall announcement.

Consumers should not eat the recalled products. This is especially important for children under the age of 5 years, elderly adults, and people with weak immune systems.

The latest recall expansion already is triggering an additional series of secondary and tertiary recalls as Sunland’s customers scramble to pull foods containing the recalled peanuts and nut butters off the market. eFoodAlert’s Trader Joe’s/Sunland Peanut Butter Recall page will be updated to reflect the additional recalls.

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