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Hundreds Sick After Salmonella Outbreak, Could be Linked to Peanut Butter

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King Nut Companies, an Ohio distributor, has recalled two brands of its peanut butter after an open container tested positive for salmonella bacteria. A salmonella outbreak has made 399 people sick in 42 states. About 70 people have been sent to the hospital. King Nut has asked customers to stop distributing all peanut butter under its King Nut and Parnell’s Pride brands with a lot code that begins with the number “8.”

The Minnesota Department of Health’s preliminary laboratory testing found salmonella bacteria in a 5-pound container of King Nut brand peanut butter, but had not linked it to the type of salmonella in the outbreak. Additional test results are expected this week. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta is working with state health authorities, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to identify the source of the outbreak, and has not conclusively linked the peanut butter to the outbreak.

In Ohio, 53 people have become ill since October 10, with 12 of them having to be hospitalized, according to Kristopher Weiss, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Health. California has the highest number of people affected, with 55.

King Nut, based in Ohio, canceled all orders with the manufacturer of its peanut butter brands, Peanut Corporation of America, based in Lynchburg, Virginia. Peanut Corporation said the tainted container was found in the kitchen of a nursing facility, leaving open the possibility of cross-contamination from another source.

Salmonella causes diarrhea, stomach cramps, and vomiting, typically beginning 12 to 72 hours after infection and clears within 4 to 7 days. The most common causes are poultry, produce, raw milk, and cheese.