The Peanut Products Recall—How Do I Know Which Products Are Safe to Eat?

Pamela Schmutz
Home & Garden Information Center

As almost everyone knows by now, Salmonella was found in peanut butter and peanut butter paste made by Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) and these products were distributed to institutions, food service industries and food companies. The question for consumers is how can they know which of their favorite peanut butter-containing foods are safe to eat. One assurance that can be given to peanut butter lovers is that the PCA peanut butter was not sold directly to consumers in retail stores, so the peanut butter in jars bought at grocery stores is not involved in this recall and is safe to eat. The problem for consumers is that over 1,000 firms purchased PCA's peanut butter products to make foods such as peanut butter cookies, crackers, candies, bars, cereal, trail mix, cookie dough and ice cream. These food companies have now issued voluntary recalls of all foods using peanut products made by PCA in its Blakely, Georgia facility since January 1, 2007. PCA has also closed its processing plant in Plainview, Texas and the state health authorities have ordered a recall of all products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) web site http://www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/salmonellatyph.html explains the recall and lists all the products involved. The list is very long, so consumers can also enter the name of a specific brand, product or company to see if it has been recalled. Follow these recommendations in handling foods that contain peanut products:

  • Do not eat any peanut-containing foods unless you can determine for sure that it has not been recalled. Check the frequently updated FDA website above or at http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/peanutbutterrecall/index.cfm.
  • If you do not see a food on the recall list, you can check a company’s web site to see if it uses PCA products. For example the Hershey Company states on its web site that it does not purchase peanuts, peanut butter or peanut products from PCA. Girl Scout cookies are also not affected by the recall.
  • Dispose of any recalled product in a safe manner so that it will not make anyone sick, or return the food to the store where you purchased it for a refund. Wash your hands thoroughly after touching any food that may be contaminated.
  • If you think you may have gotten sick from eating peanut products, see your health care provider.
  • South Carolina residents who have a question about this recall may call the Home & Garden Information Center’s toll-free number at 1-888-656-9988 Monday through Friday from 9am to 1pm.

Some pet foods that contain peanut paste are also included in the FDA recall list. Although it is unlikely that animals will get salmonellosis, people can get sick just from handling these products, and should always wash their hands before and after handling pet treats.

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