Georgia facility center of Salmonella outbreak, F.D.A.

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration confirmed yesterday that the Blakely, Ga., facility owned and operated by Peanut Corporation of America is at the center of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that has sickened hundreds and been linked to at least five deaths. The agency said testing by a Connecticut Department of Health laboratory that identified the pathogen in an unopened container of King Nut peanut butter which was manufactured at the plant and the epidemiological investigation being conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention led F.D.A. to confirm the Blakely plant as the source.

In a statement following the F.D.A.’s announcement, P.C.A., Lynchburg, Va., said, "P.C.A. continues to work with all regulatory agencies involved in this ongoing, dynamic investigation and we will address the agency’s findings when they are shared with us.

"To date, we have nothing in writing from the agency that documents its findings that result from its ongoing investigation and testing onsite at our facility. We trust that at some point they will share this with us and P.C.A. will respond accordingly. During this entire process we have continued our cooperation with federal and state officials and we have diligently worked with our customers to ensure the safety of consumers."

On Jan. 18, the P.C.A. expanded its previous recall to include all products manufactured on or after July 1, 2008, at the Blakely plant. The P.C.A. has stopped production at the plant as the F.D.A. continues its investigation.

The list of companies initiating recalls due to the outbreak grew longer as well yesterday, with NutriSystem, Inc., Horsham, Pa., recalling peanut butter granola bars; Blanton’s Candies, Sweetwater, Tenn., recalling Blanton’s branded peanut butter sticks; Country Maid, Inc., West Bend, Iowa, recalling peanut butter cookies; and PetSmart, Phoenix, Ariz., recalling dog biscuits manufactured with product from the P.C.A.

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