According to documents from the Food and Drug Administration, the agency received hundreds of complaints about illnesses related to Jif peanut butter and an outbreak of Salmonella infections earlier this year.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported only 21 confirmed patients across 17 states in its official outbreak tally. It is not unusual for CDC numbers to fall short of FDA complaints because of the illness verification process.
The FDA documents, obtained by Phyllis Entis of eFoodAlert, show that the agency received 319 complaints of illnesses consumers thought to be linked to Jif peanut butter from the Lexington, KY, production plant linked to the outbreak. The complaints were received beginning in mid-February and extending to mid-October.
The CDC declared the outbreak over on July 27 with confirmed illness onsets running from Feb. 19 through May 23. All of the patients reported eating Jif peanut butter. The Jif brand is owned and produced by the J.M. Smucker Company.
Om May 20 the company recalled more than 9.5 million cases of various Jif brand peanut butter products that were distributed nationwide. All were produced at the Lexington, KY, facility. There were dozens of related recalls by other companies who used the recalled Jif products in their own products.
The FDA has reported that there were problems with at least two peanut roasters at the production plant.
“On 2/17-18/22, you identified a breach in the (redacted) systems, which contaminated the (redacted) roasters (redacted) and (redacted). Based on your investigation, the breach was determined to be an approximately 1-inch opening in the (redacted) gasket and had existed since the installations of roasters (redacted) and (redacted).
“Peanut butter produced using roasters (redacted) and (redacted) had been distributed since November 2021. You did not take any measures to alert consumers and/or recall the contaminated peanut butter distributed between December 2021 and February 2022. Additionally, you did not report this event to the FDA’s Reportable Food Registry,” according to an FDA document.
There is still concern that consumers may have recalled products in their homes because of the long shelf life of the peanut butter. The recalled Jif peanut butter products can be found here. If you have recently eaten Jif peanut butter and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection, check the codes on the product with those on the FDA list of recalled products.
Food contaminated with Salmonella bacteria does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection. Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.
Anyone who has eaten any recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise, healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients require hospitalization.
Older adults, children, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.
Some people get infected without getting sick or showing any symptoms. However, they may still spread the infections to others.
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