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COLUMBUS, Ohio – An Ohio distributor says it has recalled two brands of its peanut butter after an open container tested positive for salmonella bacteria.
There was no immediate indication whether the brands were linked to a national salmonella outbreak.
King Nut Companies said in a statement issued Saturday that it has asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter under its King Nut and Parnell's Pride brands with a lot code that begins with the numeral "8." The brands are distributed only through food service providers and are not sold directly to consumers.
Preliminary laboratory testing found salmonella bacteria in a 5-pound container of King Nut brand creamy peanut butter, the Minnesota Department of Health said Friday.
The Minnesota tests had not linked it to the type of salmonella in the outbreak that has sickened almost 400 people in 42 states, but the department said additional results are expected early next week.
"We are taking immediate and voluntary action because the health and safety of those who use our products is always our highest priority," King Nut's president, Martin Kanan, said in a release.
King Nut, based in Solon, Ohio, has canceled all orders with the manufacturer of its two peanut butter brands, Peanut Corporation of America, based in Lynchburg, Va.
Peanut Corporation said in a statement posted on its Web site that it is working with federal food and health officials to determine whether its products are connected to the national outbreak. PCA does not sell its products at grocery stores or directly to the public.
The Lynchburg company said the tainted container was found in the kitchen of a nursing facility, leaving it open to the possibility of cross-contamination from another source. The company did not say where the nursing facility was located or when the contaminated product was discovered.
Peanut Corporation's owner and president, Stewart Parnell, declined to comment further on Sunday until the Federal Drug Administration and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention complete their investigation.
CDC spokeswoman Bernadette Burden said Sunday that she had no new information on the case and did not know when additional test results would be available.
An FDA representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
The CDC said Friday that 399 cases had been confirmed nationally, with about one in five of victims hospitalized. California has reported the most cases, with 55, followed by Ohio with 53. All the illnesses began between Sept. 3 and Dec. 29, but most of the people grew sick after Oct. 1.
The CDD has not confirmed any deaths associated with the outbreak.
The report of peanut butter contamination comes almost two years after ConAgra recalled its Peter Pan brand peanut butter, which was eventually linked to at least 625 salmonella cases in 47 states.
CDC officials say the bacteria in the current outbreak has been genetically fingerprinted as the Typhimurium type, which is among the most common sources of salmonella food poisoning.
On the Net:
King Nut Companies: http://www.kingnut.com/
CDC: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/ Peanut Corporation: http://www.peanutcorp.com/