Nuts, It Eats Both Ways

While the melamine milk scandal hit China’s credibility as a safe food producer in recent months, now the US has its own equivalent to contend with. An outbreak of food poisoning caused by contaminated peanuts has affected 43 states with at least 8 deaths reported. The fact that food safety issues can still be an issue in one of the world’s most developed countries highlights the fact that food safety is really a global issue.


The Source of the Salmonella outbreak in Georgia, which has since closed down and caused the nationwide recall of more than 1,000 food products

While this outbreak first had its origins in 1997, traced to the same company in Georgia, Peanut Corporation of America, the present outbreak has produced a lethal outcome. FDA has discovered that the company had continued to distribute its products despite having failed positive tests for contamination by Salmonella typhimurium.


Salmonella typhimurium - from the same family that causes typhoid

What is Salmonella? This fishy-sounding bacteria is a well-known cause of food-poisoning and is spread by the fecal-oral route, which is a polite way of saying that infection-laden stool from one person finds its way into the mouth of another person.Antibiotics are available to effect cure, but people can die despite this if treatment is late or there is drug resistance or when there is decreased resistance in the patient, such as in the elderly.

And what’s the result of the outbreak? Wary consumers are shunning all brands of peanut butter, even those not caught up in the massive recall, driving sales down by nearly 25 percent, The New York Times reported Saturday. Even more significant, it shows that where food safety standards are concerned, even the most developed country can fall prey to breaches in safety if there is no proper enforcement. The repercussions are global in today’s world, and countries as far away as Malaysia can be affected. See here.

For a complete list of products recalled by the FDA, go here.

For a video on Do’s and Don’ts During the Outbreak, go here.

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