Salmonella Poisoning

Salmonella is the most common cause of food-borne illness and causes a condition known as salmonellosis. Salmonella is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria that pass from the feces of people or other animals to other people or animals.

What Foods Are Likely to Harbor Salmonella?

Any food that comes from an animal can contain salmonella. Meat, poultry, milk, dairy products, eggs, and seafood are can contain salmonella. Sometimes fruits and vegetables also can contain salmonella. Salmonella can cause sickness when animal products are not cooked to an adequate temperature or when produce is not adequately washed.

What is Salmonellosis?

When an individual is exposed to salmonella they are infected with salmonellosis. Salmonellosis results in more than 500 illnesses each year in the United States.

What are the symptoms of salmonellosis?

1. stomach cramps

2. chills

3. headache

4. nausea

5. vomiting

6. fever

7. diarrhea

How Does Salmonella Get Into Peanut Butter? The peanut butter-salmonella outbreak came as a surprise to many food safety experts. Bacteria typically do not thrive in the high-fat, low-moisture environment that peanut butter provides. Additionally, peanut butter usually is pasteurized; bacteria do not usually survive the high heat needed for the pasteurization process. Research into the topic of past peanut butter safety, however, provided even bigger surprises.

The salmonella outbreak is not the first associated with peanut butter; a similar incident affected about 50 people in 1996 in Australia. An “associated” source of salmonella contamination is considered a product such as peanut butter; however, this is different than say raw meat, eggs or poultry, which are considered a principle source. While salmonella can show up in peanut butter, there needs to be a source for the contamination to occur. A study published in Journal of Food Protection in November 2006 suggested that the high-fat, low-water composition of peanut butter was sufficient to sustain the growth of three different types of salmonella.

What Kind of Peanut Butter Was Affected in the February 2007 Recall?

ConAgra manufactured the contaminated peanut butter. Currently, the United States Food and Drug Administration recommends that all Peter Pan peanut butter purchased after May 2006 be thrown away. Additionally, the Great Value peanut butter from Wal-Mart is part of the affected recall.

How Do I Know If I Ate Contaminated Peanut Butter?

Exposure to salmonella generally results in fever, dehydration, abdominal pain, and vomiting within about 8 to 72 hours of exposure; those who display such symptoms as a result of salmonella exposure are said to have salmonellosis. Symptoms usually go away within four to seven days. Those with strong immune systems often do not need medical attention to get better. However, for children, elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems, salmonellosis can prove deadly.

Are There Permanent Effects of Being Exposed to Salmonella?

Those who have diarrhea as a result of salmonella exposure usually recover completely. A small number of those who are exposed to salmonella end up with joint pain, irritation in their eyes, and painful urination known as Reiter’s syndrome. This can last for months or years and even can lead to chronic arthritis.

How Can I Protect Myself and My Family From Salmonella?

Sanitizing is an important part of salmonella avoidance. Alcohol is effective against salmonella, as is quaternary ammonium. Salmonella lives in the intestines of animals and generally is spread by contact with animal feces. Salmonella that is present in the juices of raw meat and in poultry can lead to food-borne illness and also can cross-contaminate other foods. Food also can become contaminated if handled by someone who has salmonella present on his or her hands.

The feces of pets can also lead to salmonella contamination, especially if a pet has diarrhea. Reptiles are particularly likely to have salmonella; after handling a reptile, people should always immediately wash their hands. Cooking meat products thoroughly and measuring inside temperature with a thermometer can help kill much of the salmonella that causes illness.

If you were sickened after eating Peter Pan or Great Value peanut butter, contact an experienced unsafe products attorney for an evaluation. You may decide to file a Peter Pan peanut butter recall lawsuit and recoup compensation related to medical expenses, future medical care, and other costs.