On Feb. 14, ConAgra Foods Inc. issued a voluntary recall of Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butters after the spreads were linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 425 people in 44 states. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, product testing confirmed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Tennessee in opened jars of peanut butter that were obtained from consumers who had become ill. By Feb. 23, plaintiffs had already filed class action lawsuits against ConAgra related to the outbreak in Pennsylvania, Florida and Washington.
The peanut butter recall follows a number of other high-profile outbreaks of foodborne illnesses in the past few years involving salmonella and other pathogens such as E. coli and Listeria. For example, on Dec. 13, the CDC reported that 71 people had become ill after eating at Taco Bell restaurants in five states. The CDC confirmed that at least 48 of the 71 patients tested positive for a single strain of E. coli that was traced to the restaurants. Just two months before that, the CDC announced that 199 people had been infected with another strain of E. coli bacteria that was traced to the consumption of tainted spinach. In another notable case, three people died and 555 contracted Hepatitis A after consuming green onions at a single restaurant in Pennsylvania in 2003.
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