WASHINGTON (AP) – California-based grocery store chain Trader Joe’s is recalling peanut butter that has been linked to 29 salmonella illnesses in 18 states.
The Food and Drug Administration and the federal Centers for Disease Control said Saturday that the store’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, which is sold nationwide, is the likely source of the outbreak. The agencies are investigating whether any other items sold at the store could be contaminated.
More than three-fourths of those who became ill were children under the age of 18. No deaths have been reported.
The FDA issued a statement Saturday saying that the FDA, the CDC and the state of California briefed Trader Joe’s on its investigation showing the link between the peanut butter and the illnesses on Sept. 20. The company then agreed to remove the product from store shelves.
Trader Joe’s posted a statement on its website, saying: “Out of an abundance of caution, we have removed all Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter (sku 97111) from sale, due to pending health-related inquiries. We have no confirmed information that suggests this peanut butter is unsafe to eat, but there is nothing more important to us than the health and safety of our customers and crew, and the quality of our products.
“As such, if you purchased this product, please do not eat it. We encourage you to return the product to any Trader Joe’s for a full refund or dispose of it.”
The government did not release which states had reported illnesses, but several states have issued warnings to residents not to eat the peanut butter. According to the individual states’ health departments, three cases were in Massachusetts, one was in Rhode Island and one was in North Carolina.
The CDC said people became sick between June 11 and Sept. 2. Information may not be available for those who were sickened after August.
Salmonella can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. It is most dangerous to children, the elderly and others with weak immune systems.