Jif’s Salmonella outbreak. What we know so far

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Senftenberg infections believed to be linked to consumption of Jif peanut butter products.

Jif peanut butters are manufactured by The JM Smucker Co.

outbreak-salmonella-peanut-butter-cdc-case-count-mapThe fourteen confirmed cases are scattered across twelve US states, including Arkansas (1), Georgia (2), Illinois (1), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), South Carolina (1), Texas (2), Virginia (1), and Washington (1). Two of the victims have been hospitalized.

The first reported victim became ill on February 17, 2022.

Outbreak victims range in age from less than one year old to 85 years old. The median age is 56, and 71% of the victims are female.

Interviews conducted with five of the outbreak victims revealed that all five had consumed peanut butter prior to falling ill. Two of the five had eaten Jif Creamy Reduced Fat peanut butter, one person reported Jif Natural Creamy Low Sodium peanut butter, and one person reported Jif Natural Creamy peanut butter.

The CDC cautions that the true number of sick people in an outbreak such as this is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. 

According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the outbreak strain is closely related to a strain of Salmonella recovered in 2010 from an environmental sample in the Lexington, Kentucky, manufacturing plant where the implicated Jif peanut butter products are made.

A review of the FDA’s inspection database reveals that the Lexington facility was inspected on five separate occasions since 2009, including inspections in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2018.

The 2010 and 2015 inspections were classified as Voluntary Action Indicated (VAI), meaning the inspector found deficiencies that needed to be corrected by the company. There is no list of the reported deficiencies in the database for either of the VAI inspections.

Recall status

jif-front-backThe JM Smucker Co. has recalled a long list of Jif products, covering all lot codes from 1274425 to 2140425, but only with the first seven digits ending in 425 (the identifier code for the Lexington production plant).

Recalled products were distributed across the United States and exported to Canada.

The company has issued a separate recall notice listing the products distributed in Canada.

In addition to being sold through retail stores and other outlets, peanut butter is often used as an ingredient in other products. Recalls of products containing Jif peanut butter have already begun.

For an up-to-date linked list of announced recall notices, please select the Jif/Smucker Recalls menu item at the top of the page.

CDC’s advice to consumers

  • Do not eat any recalled Jif brand peanut butter. Throw it away.
  • This product has a very long shelf life, so be sure to check any Jif peanut butter you have at home to make sure it has not been recalled.
  • Wash surfaces and containers that may have touched the recalled peanut butter using hot, soapy water.
  • Call your healthcare provider if you have one or more of these symptoms after eating recalled peanut butter:
    • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
    • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
    • Bloody diarrhea
    • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
    • Signs of dehydration, such as:
      • Not peeing much
      • Dry mouth and throat
      • Feeling dizzy when standing up

CDC’s advice to businesses

  • Do not sell or serve recalled Jif brand peanut butter.
  • Wash and sanitize containers and surfaces that may have come in contact with recalled peanut butter.

Read more about previous outbreaks of Salmonella involving peanut butter in TAINTED. From Farm Gate to Dinner Plate, Fifty Years of Food Safety Failures, now available in digital, print and audiobook editions.

TAINTED formats 3
“Reads like a true crime novel” – Food Safety News

Recalls and Alerts: March 26, 2013

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

United States

Canada

  • Allergy Alert: Uncle T Food Ltd. recalls G7 brand instant coffees due to undeclared milk.
  • Food Safety Recall: Pensée Santé (St-Éphrem, QC) recalls croquants à la caroube (crunchy carob), because the product was manufactured using YUM brand peanut butter that has been recalled due to potential contamination with Salmonella or another harmful bacterium.

Europe

  • Allergy Alert (Denmark): Santa Maria Denmark recalls Santa Maria Nacho Chips due to undeclared milk.
  • Food Safety Recall (Denmark): Crowing A/S recalls Organic Minced Chicken, frozen (Produced by Hanegal A/S), due to pieces of plastic in one of the packages.
  • Food Safety Recall (Denmark): KD Food ApS recalls Skagen Salad due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.
  • Horse Meat Recall (Greece): The Department of Rural Economy and Veterinary (southern sector) has ordered the recall of several products after undeclared horse meat (DNA) was detected in samples.
  • Medical Device Safety Recall (UK and Ireland): LifeScan UK/Ireland recalls several OneTouch blood glucose meters, due to inaccurate display of extremely elevated blood glucose level readings.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands

  • Allergy Alert (Hong Kong): Kofco Enterprise (Asia) Co. Ltd. recalls Mixed Soybean Paste, Sesame & Garlic (Manufactured by Daesang Corporation, Korea), due to undeclared peanuts.
  • Food Safety Recall (Hong Kong): Nestle recalls Kit Kat Chunky Collection Giant Egg, as the chocolate waffle inside the egg may contain small pieces of plastic.
  • Dietary Supplement Safety Alert (Hong Kong): The Department of Health urges the public not to buy or consume a slimming product named “Conting Qianweisu Slimming Herbs Capsule” as it may contain undeclared and banned drug ingredients that are dangerous to health.

Australia and New Zealand

  • Allergy Alert: Pams recalls Pams Fruit Nut Bars due to undeclared milk chocolate.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall website.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains, listed on the Kroger corporate home page.
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.

FDA Suspends Sunland’s Food Facility Registration

The agency’s action, taken under authority conferred on FDA by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), follows on the heels of a determination that “…food manufactured, processed, packed, received, or held by [the] facility has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, and that [the] facility created, caused, or was otherwise responsible for such reasonable probability.”

Peanut butter manufactured in Sunland, Inc.’s Portales, New Mexico facility was responsible for at least 41 cases of Salmonella Bredeney infections in 20 US states, according to CDC’s most recent update, published on November 8th. Ten of the 41 outbreak victims were hospitalized.

In announcing this first ever use of FDA’s suspension powers under FSMA, the agency released the following statement:

In the interest of protecting public health, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration suspended the food facility registration of Sunland Inc., a producer of nuts, and nut and seed spreads.  Registration with the FDA is required for any facility that manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food for consumption in the United States.  If a facility’s registration is suspended, that facility is prohibited from introducing food into interstate or intrastate commerce.

The fact that peanut butter made by the company has been linked to an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney that has sickened 41 people in 20 states, coupled with Sunland’s history of violations led FDA to make the decision to suspend the company’s registration.  

This was the FDA’s first use of its registration suspension authority, under the Food Safety Modernization Act. This new authority enables the agency to take this action when food manufactured, processed, packed, received, or held by a facility has a reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, and other conditions are met.

A review of Sunland Inc.’s product testing records showed that 11 product lots of nut butter showed the presence of Salmonella between June 2009 and September 2012.  Between March 2010 and September 2012, at least a portion of 8 product lots of nut butter that Sunland Inc.’s own testing program identified as containing Salmonella was distributed by the company to consumers.    

Additionally, during its inspection of the plant in September and October 2012, the FDA found the presence of Salmonella in 28 environmental samples (from surfaces in production or manufacturing areas) and in 13 nut butter product samples and one product sample of raw peanuts.  Four of the peanut butter product samples showed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney.   

The suspension order offers Sunland, Inc. the opportunity to request an informal hearing on certain issues related to the order.  If, after providing this opportunity, the FDA determines that the suspension remains necessary, the FDA will require Sunland, Inc. to submit a corrective action plan to address the immediate problems and to implement a sustainable solution to those problems in a sound scientific manner.  The FDA will reinstate Sunland, Inc.’s registration only when FDA determines that the company has implemented procedures to produce safe products.

In its letter of notification to Sunland’s President, FDA referred to a number of conditions and company actions that formed the basis for its decision, including:

  • Investigation by CDC and FDA of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney led to a determination that Trader Joe’s™ brand Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt was the likely source of the outbreak;
  • Sunland was the sold manufacturer of the implicated peanut butter;
  • Evidence collected by FDA in response to the outbreak, including the company’s own testing records, environmental and finished product samples analyzed by FDA and observations made during FDA’s inspection of the facility established that nut butter and nut products manufactured, processed, packed and held by Sunland are contaminated with Salmonella or are at risk of contamination with Salmonella;
  • Sunland’s own testing records revealed that third party testing identified the presence of Salmonella spp. in at least 40 finished products from 11 finished product lots and eight sets of environmental samples between June 2009 and September 2012; and
  • Sunland distributed at least a portion of eight lots of peanut and almond butter between March 1, 2010 and September 2012 after composite testing revealed the presence of Salmonella.

The complete text of the letter can be found on FDA’s website.

Sunland’s quality assurance philosophy clearly was “keep testing until we get a Salmonella-negative result; then ship the product.” This is an approach that has been adopted all too frequently in the food industry. I have encountered it in Canada; I have encountered it in the US. It is ethically incorrect. It is scientifically incorrect.

In a word, it is WRONG.