January 11, 2009 / 6:17 PM / 10 years ago

King Nut recalls salmonella-tainted peanut butter

CHICAGO (Reuters) - An Ohio-based food distributor has voluntarily recalled two brands of peanut butter after it was told salmonella found in an open five-pound tub sold under the King Nut label.

King Nut Cos, in a statement released Saturday, said it immediately contacted its customers and asked them to remove all King Nut peanut butter and Parnell’s Pride peanut butter from the market.

The Solon, Ohio-based King Nut supplies peanut butter to food service companies that distribute the products to institutions like hospitals, schools, restaurants and nursing homes. The brands are not sold directly to consumers.

King Nut said it asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter with lot codes beginning with the number eight and has canceled orders with the manufacturer, Peanut Corporation of America.

Officials for Peanut Corporation of America, based in Lynchburg, Virginia, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Martin Kanan, King Nut’s chief executive, said, “because we don’t manufacture peanut butter, we will do what we can to get this product out of distribution and will work with the manufacturer to inform others of this problem.”

On Friday, Minnesota health officials issued a product alert for King Nut brand creamy peanut butter after finding a jar that was contaminated with a strain of salmonella linked to an outbreak across the United States.

Since September, the outbreak of salmonella food poisoning has sickened at least 399 people in 42 states and sent at least 70 people to the hospital, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC, Agriculture Department, Food and Drug Administration and state health officials are trying to trace the source of the outbreak.

An outbreak of salmonella was linked to Peter Pan brand peanut butter in 2007. ConAgra Foods Inc closed a Georgia plant after more than 300 people became ill in that outbreak.

Reporting by Susan Kelly

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