Nut butters sold at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and other stores nationwide are being recalled because of possible salmonella contamination, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Affected products include Arrowhead Mills peanut butters, MaraNatha almond butters and peanut butters and specific private label nut butters sold under the Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, Kroger and Safeway brands.
Please change the channel. We've already seen this episode.
[This post was corrected after publication. See editor's note at the bottom.]
The recalled products were made by San Leandro-based nSpired Natural Foods Inc. Routine testing by the FDA showed a potential link between consumption of these products and four instances of illness.
Many of the brands are labeled "organic," and several are "raw." (We wonder if these nut butters were perhaps just a little too "natural," "raw" and "organic" — salmonella is an enteric bacterium, which means that it lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals — it is commonly found in bird excrement.)
A complete list of products involved in the recall can be found here. The products, which were also shipped to Canada, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and the Dominican Republic and sold online, are being removed from retail shelves and warehouses.
Customers are advised to throw out any potentially affected containers of nut butter and contact the company directly at 1-800-937-7008 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. CT for a replacement (what the?) or refund.
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In case this sounds all too familiar, a 2012 recall because of salmonella in peanut butter produced by Sunland Inc. started with Trader Joe's peanut butter and expanded to almost 300 products, everything from ice cream to crackers to noodles to energy bars. At least 42 people were sickened in 19 states in that outbreak, which eventually resulted in the bankruptcy and closure of the company (which had huge vats of peanuts exposed to rain and bird excrement, FDA inspectors found). Then there was the Great Peter Pan Outbreak of Ought-Seven, which sickened hundreds and cost the manufacturer, ConAgra, millions.
And then, of course, there is the first ever federal criminal trial stemming from a deadly foodborne illness outbreak, linked to salmonella-tainted peanut products, which we reported on last week. Stewart Parnell and others at Peanut Corp. of America face long prison sentences if convicted of knowingly shipping the contaminated peanut products, which were linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak in 2008-09 that killed nine people and sickened 714 across 43 states. The tainted peanut butter prompted one of the largest food recalls in U.S. history and bankrupted Peanut Corp. of Blakely, Ga.
Salmonella was the No. 1 cause of food poisoning according to the Centers for Disease Control's most recent report, in 2012. It is often linked to poultry. The CDC is always reminding us to cook the hell out of our chicken to avoid salmonella. Should we start broiling our peanut butter, guys?
Editor's note: An earlier version of this article, as well as its headline, misstated what products were affected by the recall. Of the products affected at Trader Joe's and Whole Foods, only raw almond butter at Trader Joe's and roasted almond butter at Whole Foods are part of the recall. We regret the error.